Three Lessons I Learned From Bad Direct Marketing


I recently received an interesting-shaped box in the mail from Yahoo, so I opened it up, wondering what could be inside.

What was inside sparked a couple of lessons about direct marketing and the problems all companies face.

  1. You need to get your target’s attention. The interesting-shaped mailer did that. So did a simpler mailer I received earlier in the week that looked like an X-ray print-out. I paid attention to them, in part because they were sent in the mail — at a time when everyone gets flooded with email — and in part because they were unusual.
  2. You have to make sure that once you get their attention, that you have something meaningful to say. As Charlene Li, author ofOpen Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead” and the founder of the Altimeter Group (and former Forrester Research, writes, “organizations need to earnI the right to have a conversation…without a relationship in place,the best marketing campaigns will fall on deaf ears.” The gift from Yahoo included a purple Yahoo! flag and a brochure about why marketing with Yahoo can help my business. The X-ray was a mailer that said we could get great results from using that company for our direct mail creative. But here’s the thing: I don’t need more clutter on my desk and we don’t handle direct mail campaigns for our clients. So both were nice tries but inefficient efforts. I don’t even recall the name of the company that sent me the X-ray sheet.
  3. You need to consider different approaches when trying to reach elusive targets. The fact that Yahoo used direct mail to get companies like mine to advertise online doesn’t mean that Yahoo doesn’t trust its online marketing to reach potential customers. But it does validate the need to find different ways to reach targets. This time didn’t work for Yahoo, but I don’t mean to pick on them; I’ve received ineffective direct mail from Google, too. The difference is that Google didn’t spend as much money on its piece, but they did send me many more pieces.

Do you know anyone who might want a used purple flag?

Tagged: , , , , , ,

Related Posts