At an industry round table a short time ago, a general conversation was bouncing around amongst a bunch of relatively senior executives about the uses their businesses had made of the internet as a marketing and communication tool.
Few were vocal advocates of the web, several had examples of fancy programs that yielded little for their businesses.
It became clear after a while that they largely saw the net as a way of avoiding the mailing costs, printing, envelope stuffing, and stamps, associated with “direct mail” and were grateful, but it did not work very well.
The net is not just free stamps, it is a whole new way of engaging your market, of attracting and engaging a new bunch of people, probably who were never going to be on a mailing list, because they engage each other, they network with like minded people. The power is taken from you, and given to them.
Seeing this as a version of a snail mail direct mail program is really missing the point completely. The net is nothing like a free mailing service, it is a new way of working with your “tribe” rather than directing them.