I came across an engaging concept for direct mail marketing in the latest edition of Springwise. The premise is easy, matter (a collaboration between Artomatic and Royal Mail in the UK) recruits people to sign up for a targeted box of promotional items from a variety of advertisers. Boxes are designed by matter to be relevant to a chosen demographic - right now matter is recruiting males aged 25-35 - and mailings are sent out. The matter box arrives on a Saturday, catching the recipient on a weekend when they're more likely to have time to engage with the advertisers' free gifts. And from there the hope is that by engaging people with interesting branded items the consumer will become more interested/engaged in the advertisers' products.
The only hole (and it's a large one) I see in the current execution is that matter tells visitors exactly who they're looking for. So if you're a 50 year old female who just wants a box full of free stuff (admit it, we all like free stuff) it becomes incredibly easy for you to transform yourself into a 30 year old male on the sign-up form. A better approach would be to invite everyone to sign-up, create a database, and use that to target advertisers to build a matter mailing around. Come to the table with an already established, interested group of consumers and it's an easier sell to get the advertisers on board. Another short fall is matter is not collecting data past the generic contact information. In a micro-targeting era it becomes increasingly difficult to justify blanketing targets based solely on age and sex. I would think recipients and advertisers alike would prefer more targeted mailings, e.g. 25-35 year old males that work full time in an IT profession, exercise 3 times a week and are single.
While I think matter is a great concept and I'm interested in hearing more about its success, with a few minor tweaks matter could make itself that much more relevant to both advertisers and consumers.