Why I Love Direct Mail
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I knew little to nothing about publishing when I started Free Spirit Publishing in 1983. This was a good thing. It meant that I looked at every detail as though it was the most important, and every dollar spent as though it was my last (because, oftentimes, it was). With two titles of interest primarily to teachers and counselors specializing in gifted education, Free Spirit was not just a niche publisher; it was a niche-within-a-niche publisher. And it was one without enough of a list or a track record to attract commission sales reps. But being a former teacher, I knew that educators and counselors would buy my books — if only I could reach them.
Beginning with a simple flyer, some rented and borrowed lists, the kindness and support of some dependable contacts and friends, and my bedrooms-and-basement-turned-fulfillment house, Free Spirit Publishing was up, running, and in the direct mail business. Nineteen years later, direct mail continues to play a pivotal role. Times (and technologies) change, of course, but those who predicted the demise of direct mail in the Internet age were wrong. E-mail is just another form of direct mail, and both are important parts of every company’s ability to reach (and keep) new customers. I still love the thrill, challenge, and payoff that come with it. The ability of direct mail — print or virtual — to quickly adapt to and even anticipate customer and market needs is unequaled. But there’s more.
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