Monday, August 18, 2008

What value junk mail?

Like many definitions, the term 'junk' is in the eye of the beholder. One person's tree-killing, time-wasting, mailbox-stuffing object is another person's opportunity for action. In many ways, junk mail is like email spam: it's all in the economics.

The costs of poor targetting are less than the costs of precise targetting. Of course, email spam's distribution economics are so advantageous to the sender that it actually resembles mass advertising in its indiscriminant bombardment!

So here's a proposal for a definition of junk mail:

"Junk mail is that mail which is not valued by the one who receives it."

It's not defined by form factor or creative approach, whether it's online or not, or whether it uses recycled materials.

Of course, this definition is pretty close to the dictionary definition of junk anything: "anything that is regarded as worthless, meaningless, or contemptible; trash. "

Junk mail, like junk anything, can be defined, solely, by the value a person who receives it finds in it. Value is an individual quality. Thus, mostly, this value will be measurable by marketers in the response their mailings elicit.

The definition, resting as it does on a foundation of value, leaves plenty of room to replace the word 'mail' with any other form of marketing. Junk advertising, Junk offers, Junk PR and of course...junk blog postings ;-)

For a look at the transformative value created from junk mail alchemists, check out The Top 10 Creative Responses to Junk Mail

For a look at the latest trends in direct mail, junk or otherwise, here's the US Postal Service by-the-numbers breakdown:
(click to enlarge)

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