Enamored with the notion of hosting your presentations and technical information exclusively on the Web? You may want to reconsider. With replication costs low and mailings that can be made for little more than the cost of a stamp, putting your message on disc may be the smartest way to tell your company’s story and interest new and existing customers in your latest offer.
While it may seem a regressive concept in the age of online marketing, there are rational and creative reasons why a disc succeeds where the web cannot.
1) Don’t Leave Them Empty-Handed
For trade show and seminar handouts, a Web-linked DVD or CD-ROM is an inexpensive, effective way to get noticed and steer customers to a web page where they can purchase a product directly or solicit more information. If you compare printing costs with disc replication costs, you may be surprised to find that a disc – which can contain thousands of pages of full-color material, as well as video, multimedia presentations, and podcasts – can cost much less than a glossy folder filled with marketing collateral.
A disc can be a perfect takeaway – something to be later viewed in comfort and quiet, or even watched on a laptop during the plane trip home. Mobile computing is the fastest growing segment of the computer industry and for laptops with a disc player, DVDs and CDs carry a lot of information in a very portable format. Not everyone is continuously connected to the Internet, especially while traveling, and this is where disc portability is a big plus.
And don’t overlook the fact that the Web lacks the tactile immediacy and visual attraction of a packaged disc, which can contain both label and package artwork, something real and tangible that can sit on a desk or bookshelf. Done artfully and skillfully, a disc can make a decidedly strong first impression that communicates something valuable about both your product and your company.
2) Straight Path to the Message
Hyperlinking, one of the strengths of the web, is also a weakness when your goal is to deliver a message in a precise sequence. Users with the freedom to follow multiple links in multiple directions aren’t going to buy into the progression you have in mind. Think of the last time you were navigating the web looking for something and veered off into a completely different direction when a link, headline, or image caught your eye. It takes enormous discipline to stay on course and get to a fixed web destination.
In comparison, a video or presentation on DVD can follow a sequence that communicates directly without distractions – like a book or a movie or seminar presentation. This isn’t to say that you can’t embellish the message with additional paths or information available through links. But, you might find it more effective to put those links at the end so your audience doesn’t stray from course you have in mind until you can direct them somewhere at the end – a page where they can take direct action based on what they have learned from your communications.
3) Distraction-Free Communication
Anywhere you go on the Internet, you’re bombarded with advertising messages. Maybe your company’s Web site is ad free, but getting to that site means maneuvering through a complex mix of Google ads, banners, pop-up videos, and other distracting attention grabbers. A potential customer searching for you has got to be pretty determined to persist and actually get to the payoff destination. Even if you’ve done a spectacular job of SEO with your site, the path from search to destination includes enticing visuals to steer potential customers off course and capture their attention in a myriad of ways.
With a DVD or CD-ROM, you have control over the viewer’s experience. You can set the tone with music or images. You can control the pace of the experience and steer the user to points of interest or areas where additional information can be found. The interface design of a DVD or CD-ROM is a roadmap to steer the viewer’s path through your marketing material. Use this feature wisely and you may earn a customer.
If you target a direct mail piece well to a receptive audience and provide worthwhile content, recipients will often set aside the time to view and consider what you’ve provided – without the competing distraction of infinite online pitches. And, if you have someone’s full attention, the chance they will respond to your product or service offering is much greater.
4) Less Compression Means Better Audio and Video
As much as I enjoy watching streaming movies from Netflix, the experience is often marred by stalls and stutters. Whether the result of packets jamming due to Internet traffic or too much activity through the busy access point in my home, the convenience of streamed audio and video is offset by the less-than-perfect delivery of content.
Similarly, the video of your presentation streamed from your Web site suffers with the same compromises – not to mention the audio quality. We’ve become so used to hearing audio that has been heavily compressed that hearing the same sounds played from a disc can be a reminder of how rich, clear audio can make a deep impression on the listener.
On the average, bitrates for combined audio and video played from a typical DVD1 are in the range of 6100Kbps. In comparison, a video stream compressed with the H.264 or WebM codec delivered via a typical broadband connection2 at 720p resolution would provide content at anywhere from 450 to 6000Kbps, although most users have neither the processing power nor high-bandwidth connection to support the higher rates. While there are many variables involved in these calculations, they serve as rough comparison of qualitative differences between disc and streaming delivery of audio and video.
DVDs and CDs can provide measurably clearer, cleaner, more compelling images and audio to your audience. You can make a memorable impression on the web with a well-designed multimedia piece, but that same piece can be crisper and more professional in every way when delivered by disc.
5) Direct Mail Marketing Reaches Niche Audiences
An effective marketing strategy can’t overlook the importance of targeting your message to those people most likely to be interested in it. While the web and email campaigns do have mechanisms for reaching particular demographic groups, direct mail databases have precise demographic details – partly because the data is anchored to residence and business addresses, rather than an impermanent addresses in cyberspace.
Your business very likely has an extensive database of existing customers that can be supplemented with targeted rented lists filtered to neatly fit your demographic objectives. Whether your product is lacrosse equipment, winter sweaters, or videogames, there are direct mail lists out there that includes your ideal prospects. Putting something on a disc to capture interest and intrigue your audience is the first step in motivating them to consider your product or service.
A targeted DVD or CD mailing of this sort is likely to get noticed, as well. In a December 2010 article for Deliver magazine, Paul Vogel, president of the mailing and shipping services at the U.S. Postal Service noted, “…customers like getting mail: 79 percent of all households read or scan direct mail they receive, according to our research. Even younger adults – whom we tend to think of as living entirely in the digital space – say they would prefer to receive offers through the mail, rather than in an email or text message. Mail creates an emotional connection with customers.”
6) A Proven Method for Lead Generation
Every business faces the challenge of needing to expand its customer base, and to do this you need a consistent, measurable means for generating leads. Direct mail opens the possibility of giving a customer something that has immediate perceived value. Optical discs let you deliver an amazing variety of content to prospects: songs, movies, catalogs, games, technical information, simulations, puzzles, web-integrated content, and more.
Because DVDs and CDs are inexpensive to produce and ship, you can devise an appropriate mix of existing customers and fresh prospects, deciding ahead of time how much of your marketing budget to devote to prospecting, knowing that response rates will be lower. To maximize the reach of each mailing and minimize waste, you can eliminate undeliverable addresses from your mailing lists using a service such as MailListCleaner.com. Designed for small businesses and non-profits, this service can identify and correct addresses that have changed recently (according to the Postal Service Change of Address database) correct misspelled addresses, append zip codes, and provide other useful functions to help ensure each DVD or CD you mail reaches its intended recipient.
“We’ve all become so heavily involved in the digital space we’ve forgotten that direct mail used to be the only vehicle to reach people. But we shouldn’t forget. Even though our solutions are digital focused, we’re reaching online and digital marketers using direct mail. Mail has a real opportunity to stand out, especially if it’s dimensional in nature.”3 – Mikel Chertudi, senior director of demand marketing and media, Adobe.
Lee Purcell writes about technology topics – including ray tracing, parallel computing, alternative energy, and open-source software – from Arlington, Vermont. Visit his blog at lightspeedpub.blogspot.com for spirited insights into energy advances.