Direct Mail vs Junk Mail, Part II

Earlier I wrote about a piece of unsolicited advertising I had received in my mailbox (the technical definition of “direct mail”). I considered that piece to be “junk mail” — poorly targeted to people who have no use for the product.

The next day, I received a piece of direct mail.

This piece was significantly smaller, a 3.5″ x 5″ folded 4-color postcard, to be exact. Part of the outside messaging had been ink-jetted and smeared in the mailing process, not as pristine as the piece I had received the day before.

Even though it didn’t originally catch my eye in the mailbox, this is definitely an offer I will be acting on.Vista Print postcard.jpgIMG_9346.JPG

I recently opened my own business, which means I filed my business with the State of Minnesota. This company selected the names of new business owners and offers them a deal to get business cards printed. They bulk-printed the creative to get a volume discount and then ink-jetted on the offer deadline, promo code and address before mailing.

I have to believe they’ve got a warehouse of thousands of these cards waiting to get mailed. If they were even smarter (which is absolutely possible), they performed a gender identification on the list of business owners and for the men inserted a sample business card featuring a man’s name and masculine colors.

They wisely chose their audience — new business owners — and offered them a service they believe they could use, business cards.

Brilliant.

The creative may not be a glossy, over-sized “hey look at me” piece, but they will be getting my order because they got two critical pieces right: audience selection and timing.

Imagine how these pieces would have been received if they had been delivered at different times: the offer for window replacements when we filed a permit for a remodel would have been direct mail, and the offer for business cards to a non-business owner would have been junk mail.

Nonprofits should be asking themselves if they asking donors to give when donors  are looking to contribute, or when nonprofits need to raise money? Are you sending direct mail or junk mail? The answer is not in a new snazzy envelope, great graphics or a well-written letter, it’s in the audience selection and timing.

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