Direct Mail Advertising Can Still Be Exciting!

Until last night, I firmly believed that direct mail advertising is dead — or at least, completely ineffective for the Millennial Generation (or Generation Y, or whatever else you want to call people who grew up with computers and mobile phones). After all, we live in the era of Groupon and Living Social, not in the stone age!

Not only would I automatically throw away any marketing pamphlets that I found in my mailbox, but I had also installed a nifty smartphone app, called PaperKarma. What PaperKarma does is allow you to single out junk mail that you want to stop receiving. All you need is take a photo of the junk mail in question and upload it to PaperKarma’s server — the rest is “magic” that PaperKarma’s staff does for you. The mere fact that I had already successfully used PaperKarma to unsubscribe from direct mail from RedPlum and ValPak should tell you how little attention I would pay to old-fashioned mail-in marketing… Until yesterday… 🙂

What made me think again about direct mail is what I saw in my mailbox when I got back from work last night.

Instead of the typical bland tabloid-style “newsletter” with coupons and deals or the photo-sized flyer with the latest house cleaning service offering, I saw an authentic 1980s diskette. “Wow! What is this? Is one of my geeky friends sending me an old copy of Karateka, as a joke?” I asked myself. I looked closer and saw the name of a company I did not recognize — CityStash. And then I realized what was going on — the company had decided to use one of those old-school 5-inch diskettes as the placeholder, with all the marketing copy printed on the diskette’s sleeve. How cool!! 🙂

This creative marketing gimmick brought nostalgic memories of an era when computers were still a novelty and a single 5-inch diskette contained the “whopping” 1.2 MB of data (enough to store several games on a single diskette)! But this “flyer” also achieved some much more tangible and commercial results. Because the diskette piqued my “geeky” side’s interest, it made me read the marketing copy on the sleeve. It prompted me (subconsciously, of course) to commit to memory CityStash, the name of the company behind this campaign.

24 hours later, I still think about this diskette. I can’t help admitting that the diskette flyer is definitely a memorable advertisement that I will recall if CityStash ever surveys me. Not to mention that I now know the brand of a self-storage service even though I don’t need one. Kudos to this young start-up’s marketing team!

Have you come across other exciting examples of “dinosaur era” advertising? Please share them here.

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5 Responses to Direct Mail Advertising Can Still Be Exciting!

  1. That is cool & definitely creative. I think Direct Mail is effective when it’s done right just as with e-Mail, or SMS.

    Btw, awesome idea about Spotify! Might be another great way to socialize & interact with people instead of just Facebook/Twitter. Course, it could go the other way & sabotage you if people don’t ultimately like what you’re suggesting for Playlists.

    • Emil_M says:

      Hi there! Thanks for the comments on my latest post as well as the Spotify social link. I agree that sharing music could open a “can of worms” — just like anything else related to personal tastes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But I am completely fine with people commenting critically on my music choices. By the way, what I have on Spotify is just meant to be what is currently on my mind, not necessarily what is my favorite music. I’ll have to make a habit of updating my Spotify social profile more often, now that I know people are checking it out. 🙂

  2. Mitko says:

    That’s smart marketing. Draws attention and that is all is needed.

  3. Tim Friemel says:

    Hi Emil,

    Thanks for writing about our company. I’m one of the founders. We are out there trying to make it happen. If you ever need some storage, hit us up on the website and I’ll get you a good discount (really)!

    One small thought, you had a link presumably to our website, but the link was wrong. In the spirit of Google SEO, would love if you could correct it to

    Again, thanks for you kind words. That kind of feedback makes us feel great!


    • Emil_M says:

      Hi Tim,

      Thanks for the feedback and for kindly offering a discount. I think you guys have a pretty revolutionary approach to disrupting the self-storage business. Good luck with your endeavors — I’ll keep an eye on your start-up’s progress (from an entrepreneurial / business curiosity point of view).

      Apologies for using an indirect referral link for your company. I have already corrected it and the URL should now be

      Once again, all the best growing your nascent business.


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