Have you ever received a piece of mail that prompted you to think, “Oops! I wonder what they were they thinking when they mailed me this?”
My first tip for avoiding these direct mail blunders is to put yourself in the shoes of the person receiving your mail. Do this and you’re almost guaranteed to avoid the following problems.
Timing Is Everything
This past Nov. 24—the day before Thanksgiving—I received two different holiday gift catalogs already proclaiming, “It’s not too late—Christmas delivery guaranteed!” and, “There’s still time to order!”
With Christmas more than a month away, the “It’s not too late” message is one I expected a week or two before Christmas, not in November. It made me think the mailers had made a mistake, or these particular catalogers required more time than their competition to ship. Any way I looked at it, from this consumer’s perspective it didn’t make sense.
Tip: Even though you’re creating copy and mapping out mail plans months prior to the actual mail drop, consider when your message will appear in readers’ hands and the context in which it will be read.
Time Is Running Out … or Is It?
There’s also the matter of offer expiration dates and how to use them to achieve your marketing objectives. Recent OfficeMax mailings left me wondering what this marketer was thinking when it sent me the following offers.
In November, I received a savings card good for $10 off a purchase of $30 or more (potential 33 percent savings) with an expiration date of Jan. 8, 2005.
I hadn’t used the first card when, a few weeks later in December, I received an even better deal. It was an in-store savings card good for $10 off a purchase of $20 or more (potential 50 percent savings) with an expiration of Feb. 5, 2005. Both cards were valid for an overlapping period of about 30 days, and the latter was a better deal with a smaller minimum purchase.