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How to get it very wrong at marketing

Arriving through the letterbox recently was a piece of mail from a very well known media and communications company.

“Dear Occupier?” it began. Never a good start – because I didn’t open the envelope and I’d left it on top of the pile to go out for the recycling. Except the resident 4 year old found it, opened it, and came into the kitchen full of enthusiasm saying “Mummy, you didn’t open this one“.

That actually made me take a look at what it was that Charlie was waving around so excitedly.

The headline caught my eye:

“Fancy a free Blackberry?” it said. “No“ says I.

“Let’s face it, who wouldn’t”. It continued. “Well, me, for starters?”.

You see, I’ve nothing against them, but I trialled one for a week and I personally didn’t get on with it. I know people who love them, but I don’t fall into that category.

Plus I already have a very nice smart phone (HTC Desire, since you ask) which I’m very happy with and am not looking to change.

And so with my consumer hat on, I didn’t read any further. As a consumer, at that point, the letter would have continued its trip to the recycling box, without me even unfolding it.

Which is a shame for them, because it was only with my interested marketer hat on, did I actually read on to discover that I could have a choice of three other smart phones.

So here are my five top lessons from this letter:

1. Don’t assume you know what your customers want without ever asking them or finding out first. (Very dangerous!).

2. Don’t ever send blanket mailings to all and sundry with generic salutations. Honestly, do you really read everything that comes through the door that says “Dear Occupier”? I saw an email from a designer the other day, who really should know better, that started “Dear Subscriber”. Eugh.

3. Don’t go for the easy, cheap option for your marketing. Untargeted mailings in large quantities are easy to organise and relatively cheap to do. They only work, though, if you have a big enough budget to send major quantities (in the hundreds of thousands), or in smaller quantities for local services (eg pizza delivery, window cleaner etc). Real marketing requires real work. There’s a science behind it, and you need to tap into that. I’d much rather send 10 highly targeted letters, to named individuals, who have already expressed an interest in what I sell, rather than 100 generic “anybody” style mailings.

4. Put your offers “above the fold”. Above the fold of a letter; above the bottom of the screen on your website. If you haven’t caught people early on, you lose them. Simple.

5. Check, double check and triple check for spelling and grammatical errors. In the letter there was no question mark after the “wouldn’t”. Bad grammar and spelling errors reflect badly on the sender. If they’re going to be sloppy at their sales messages, what’s the service going to be like?

Have a great week,
Dedicated to your success,

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