History of Direct Mail Part 6
Printing direct advertisements was challenging work, with tens of thousands of prints per order, even back in the late 1800s. Thus, inventors and printers were hard at work to come up with better ways of publishing massive orders. The linotype was invented in 1884, and put into commercial use in 1894.
Only 6 years later, in 1900, the monotype was developed. Then there were improvements in engraving, and inventions for folding and binding. Each invention and change for the better made direct mail printing easier and more efficient.
Direct mail advertising developments in early American history have shown themselves to be powerful catalysts for growth. An example is a now well-known suit company in New York that started its business for $500. Decades of direct mail advertising later, this company owns four factories on twenty acres and makes millions of dollars per year.
Back in 1917, mail-order business was grossing about $1.5 billion. Direct mailings cost some companies up to a million dollars per year in postage alone, even back then. In fact, it is estimated that in 1920, 45% of all commerce was done through direct mail. In the mid-1900s, the trend had continued, reaching a final peak of direct mail advertising.
Today, direct mail has fallen tremendously with the advent of the internet. Emails, banners, site-linking, video ads, and search engines have eliminated much of the need for direct mail advertising. And while direct mail is still used for many types of advertising, the change is tremendous.
Currently, direct mail is still effectively used for local advertising, reaching households in the communities of smaller businesses. It remains a strong contender for local business, helping restaurants, service companies, and other businesses compete for business in their area.