The Human Touch

Here is a nice piece from my local paper about a direct mail company that uses hand-written addresses, and has a response rate triple that of their competitors.

In an age when cost-cutting has corporations trading people for recordings and swapping counter help for automated screens, one local business is bringing back the personal touch.

Each year, DNR Group sends out about 10 million pieces of mail from clients such as America Online, the Salvation Army or the Red Cross. But instead of machine-made memos, the recipients get personalized, handwritten notes from an army of Louisvillians.

DNR Group President David Redmon said about 4,500 local residents work as independent contractors for DNR, writing and addressing personal messages.

Many consumers view mail solicitations as junk and toss them in the trash without a second thought. But personalizing the mail gets a higher response that Redmon says is worth marketers paying triple for the service.

"We produce the highest response for any direct mail out there," he said. "We are the best producer for your dollar."

Harold Herring — who runs a marketing company in Fort Worth, Texas, that uses DNR's services — agrees. "Most people who do regular direct mail would be ecstatic with a 2 or 4 percent return," he said. "I've never had less than 8 percent using DNR."

I think a human touch is almost always better, but it boils down to cost. Humans cost more than machines, so the benefit of the human touch has to outweigh the higher price for labor.

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