A Lesson in Postal History
At the end of your tour, a printer spits out a thank-you note personally addressed to you with a coupon good for 10-percent off any purchase in the gift shop.
The exhibit's creative is terrific, and the whole thing is a great reminder for all of us to make our efforts interesting, fun and interactive, and to build relationships. Here are some ideas I got from the exhibit:
1. It begins with stories. They're yarn-spinners, and they're true tales of the derring-do of the original catalog geniuses. It makes our whole industry come alive. It's about business, but it's mostly about people. Great direct mail does that. It can tell the story of a company in ways that arrest the reader's attention with relevant segues to "what's in it for you?"
I worry that the story part of our communications is becoming a lost art. Just this morning a letter arrived on my desk. It starts: "It is my privilege to announce the launch of an exciting and innovative solution to the problems faced by my most small and medium-sized agencies …" I almost went to sleep. Who cares? Reach out and grab me with something interesting. Tell me a tale, spin me a yarn. The classic is The Wall Street Journal's "two young men" letter, but there are dozens of other wonderfully successful yarn-spinning letters. If people like you—if you engage them—they'll read about your brilliant solutions. But first, you have to engage them. The National Postal Museum does this brilliantly.
2. An interactive part of the exhibit asks for information about YOU. We don't do that often enough, or if we do, we do it in a boring straightforward way that's about as charming as an IRS audit. The more information you have about customers and prospects, the better your ongoing creative and offers will be. Ask them nicely, tell them why it's good for them to give you the information, thank them and then use the information for their benefit.