Direct Mail Camouflage
The power of direct mail, curiosity and sneak attacks to win new customers
By Russell Kern
This year, my travels took me to the wilds of Africa, as well as to the red-hot Red Light District of Amsterdam. During my travels, I saw both human and animal behaviors (of the natural kind) that revealed important similarities and lessons for direct mail marketers, both B-to-B and B-to-C.
Ultimately, direct marketers are psychologists. Our job is to stimulate the mind, arouse curiosity, and deliver information that persuades and eventually elicits a positive action—a response, an order, a new customer.
The Masai warriors of Africa also are psychologists in the way they hunt their prey and avoid becoming dinner themselves. And the brothels and "toy" shops of Amsterdam also employ psychological tactics to sell their products and services.
For example, in the wilds of Africa, the use of the color red to attract and stand out was exhibited by the Masai warriors—as well as the concepts of camouflage and sneak attack, which were expertly demonstrated by hunting cheetahs and lions. Whereas, in Amsterdam, the allure of red was revealed—as well as the power of curiosity—through "teasers" and limited reveals of "naked envelopes."
The Color Red
A B-to-B direct marketer's first step in maximizing results is to grab the reader's attention through the use of words and pictures, or sometimes through nothing at all. After walking just two blocks in the Red Light District, it was easy to see why red is an important, attention-getting color for direct marketing. Red attracts; it stands out and it calls to your eye. I saw the use of red in action on storefronts of the district's racy toy shops, and on stores with women in the windows. This bright color also is used by the warrior men of the nomad Masai tribes living throughout Kenya, the Serengeti and Masai Man wilderness.