Snail Mail From Some Desperate People

I recently decided to take a good look the junk mail I receive before tossing most of them in the garbage. I thought there might be some new and effective promotional ideas floating around in the world of direct marketing. I was quite surprised what I saw.

I’m going to review four pieces of mail. Spoiler Alert: I was appalled at what I saw.

I know it’s a challenge to imagine what these mailers look like, but use your imagination.

How Not to Sell Financial Planning Services

This gem came in in the form of a 5×8 folded card stuffed in an envelope. On the card’s cover is a color drawing of a turtle. A business card is included. A handwritten note on the folded card read:

Dear.Mr. Leepson,

Enclosed is my card because I have client meetings in your area the week of (Month, Day, Year) and would be happy to meet with you to discuss retirement planning or tax reduction strategies.

John (not his real name)

 I’m wondering:

  • Who is this guy?
  • I’m live in Maryland and he lives in Philadelphia. Why would I hire someone who doe not live in my community?
  • How did he get my name?
  • Why would I want to contact him?
  • What’s the story with the turtle?
  • Am I an afterthought? (maybe he can fit me in after his ‘client meetings’)
  • Why didn’t he have a ‘call for action’?

I remember reading an article in the Washington Post (March 27, 2016) called 10 Steps in Hiring a Financial Advisor. I quote: The first step in hiring a financial advisor is: “Ask Friends: Just as you rely on friends or relatives to find the best doctor or dentist, they can help you find a reliable financial advisor, too. Also, ask work colleagues or friends. Don’t seek out names in the phone book or online”.

 My advice to John: Hire a professional direct marketing copywriter and graphic designer to create your campaign.


How to Infantilize Your Customers

A local real estate agent sent this to me. The business envelope contained a flyer, a business card, and a scratch-off lottery ticket. The copy on the outside envelope, written in red, said Lottery Ticket Inside followed by four exclamation points. On the flyer, there is a childlike drawing of two flowers in flower pots.

The enclosed business card had the requisite smiling photo of the real estate agent with ten lines of copy on one side. On the reverse side of the business card was a 25-word mission statement or something like that.

The lottery ticket was a nice gimmick. It was an effective way to get me to open the envelope. Was it necessary? Maybe. Was a subliminal message being conveyed that selling my house would be a gamble? What does a lottery ticket have to do with real estate?

Have you ever seen a 10-year child use WordArt from PowerPoint to make a flyer? The title of the flyer sure looked that way.

There were twelve exclamation points throughout the flyer. The type was 18 point, bold and purple. Two words were written in bold capitals. There were three cheap looking and amateurish clip art illustrations placed randomly on the page.

My advice to the real estate agent: Look at how other real estate agents in you area are using direct marketing to sell houses. Copy their style. In my part of town, I see real estate agents use over-sized, full-color postcards with photos of properties.


Tooth Decay

I love receiving mailings from dentists. Lots of PhotoShopped smiles and goofy grins. When I first looked at this piece, I thought it was a 5½ x 8½ card. I didn’t notice that it was actually an 8½ x 11 sheet folded in half. This mailer was developed by an advertising agency specializing in dental marketing. I wonder how much this must have cost the dentist? Here’s the headline:

We Love Insurance. Why would anyone love insurance? What is it about insurance that’s loving?

Here are some other irritating things about this mailer.

  • Distracting ampersands (&) are used throughout. This is distracting for the reader and prevents the eye from moving seamlessly through the copy
  • The names of the dentist or dentists are never mentioned.
  • There are five photos of women and three photos of children. I guess men don’t need to go to the dentist. Yes, I know that women make most of the healthcare decisions for the family, so I’ll cut this dental practice some slack.
  • The copy reads One Trusted Office For All Your Dental Needs, yet there are two locations. Which office should you trust?

My advice to the dentist: Contact your ad agency and ask for your money back.


What Is It About These Dentists?

This is an 11×6, two-sided glossy postcard. A company that specializes in direct mail promotion created it. On the address side, there is a smiling photo of the dentist. There are 146 words of content, including the phrase…”A different kind of dentist”. In my opinion, a dentist is a dentist is a dentist.

To make things worse and to add to the clutter to the mailer, there is a coupon for a NO CHARGE exam and x-ray (normally a $400 value). There has to be a catch. At the bottom of the coupon it states:

  • Limited time (doesn’t say how long)
  • Offer only good for residents over 50
  • Must live in the town where the dentist practices

On the flip side of the card, the copy reads Meet a dentist who really cares. Do you know a dentist that doesn’t care?

When free services are offered via coupons, consumers take advantage of the freebie and tend not to purchase the service.

My advice to the dentist: Be clear and more specific about your offer.

This was a disappointing drive down the direct marketing road. If you’re thinking about using direct marketing to promote your business, there are tons of resources online that can guide you through the process of creating effective and creative mailers.


There’s lots more tips and tactics to build your business in Critical Connections-The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing

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