Message & Media: Mind Your Message
I write for an agency specializing in retirement community marketing. The targeted audience for retirement living is females age 70 and older. They may not always sign the check, but they definitely are decision influencers. Consider these two points:
- This prospect looks forward to receiving and reading direct mail. She spends time scrutinizing each piece, deciding whether or not it’s important enough to keep and read.
- She is a reader, not a scanner. She expects complete sentences—not fragments or extensive bulleted copy. The P.S. is the first thing she reads 30 percent of the time. Even if she has a computer and an e-mail address, she still prefers hearing about products and services by direct mail. E-mail is for her grandchildren. Google is not in her vocabulary. Ignore her preferences and it will cost you in response and sales.
At the same time, as a direct marketer, you know the value of testing and tracking over time. Today’s 70-year-old is not the same 70-year-old you will market to in the future. Even three or four years from now your choice of media and messages will change. But you’ll know, because you’ll be testing and tracking response trends.
Support Your Message
One more thing: Message, media and format must support your marketing objective. When they don’t, it’s a very expensive branding effort.
For example, I recently received a 14-page self-mailer from my wireless provider. Being kind, I’ll say the objective was unclear. Muddled.
The teaser on the front panel read, “Now’s the time to show you our appreciation.” (Copy tip: “You” is one of the most powerful words in the English language. Never bury it in the middle of a sentence. “Thank you for being a loyal customer” would have been stronger and more engaging.)
After forcing myself to open and read the page-two fold-out (I’m always looking for samples of what NOT to do for this column), I finally realized this effort was a member newsletter. I also found mouse-type copy that said, “Patricia Friesen, Can you believe you’ve been with us since 10/17/1998?” I now understood why Sprint wanted to show me appreciation but was surprised at how hard it was to find this connection.