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Mailbox Monday

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Dale Carnegie, in his perpetual bestseller How to Win Friends and Influence People, lists "6 Ways to Make People Like You." The third of these tips is this:

"Remember that a person's name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language. The average person is more interested in their own name than in all the other names in the world put together. People love their names so much that they will often donate large amounts of money just to have a building named after themselves. We can make people feel extremely valued and important by remembering their name."

Does that extend to company names? If you are communicating with an executive (especially a founder) of a company, are they more interested in their company's name than any other?

And what happens if you get that company name wrong?

We launched Plan B Marketing Communications (note the "s" at the end) in 2003. But, we legally changed the name of the company to B Direct Marketing Communications nine years ago.

Nine. Years. Ago. 

All contact data is notorious for becoming obsolete, but B2B data is worse than B2C. (Think about how long the average family lives in one house vs. how long the average employee stays at one job.) Estimates vary, but the average B2B database decays by about 3% a month. That means within a year, one-third of your B2B database will be out of date. This helps keep database companies in business — even as it drives marketers out of their minds.

But, back to B Direct. Despite having been B Direct and only B Direct for nine years, we still get direct mail addressed to one or another of us at Plan B.

Today, for example, we received a handsome little package from Citizens Bank. The outer envelope is made of nice, textured stock. There's a live (presort standard) stamp, affixed at a slightly rakish and seemingly hand-stamped angle. It's the size and shape of an invitation or a greeting card. And, as planned no doubt, it stood out from other standard #10s.

But, it's addressed to the Queen B at ... Plan B. Marketing Communication. (Note the unnecessary period and missing  "s.")

Inside, a piece of card stock announces an "EXCLUSIVE OFFER FOR:" Plan B. Marketing Communication. The obsolete and incorrect name of the agency is dominant on the card, unfortunately making the mistakes even more noticeable. Type is centered with plenty of white space and looks, again, like an invitation. The offer is a special loan that takes only 10 minutes to apply for up to $150,000. There's a URL and a unique "Marketing Code."

The other insert is a four-page, two-panel brochure. The cover headline continues the "You're invited ..." theme. Inside, bulleted copy emphasizes "hassle-free" lending. The type is laid out so that it's quick to read and easy to scan. The back of the brochure serves up the response URL again. And, for a piece from a financial services company, the entire thing is blessedly lean on disclaimers, footnotes, and legalese.

The package is clean, efficient, persuasive. It feels significant but was probably quite cost-effective. It stood out, and it makes a compelling case for an attractive offer.

The Bs at Plan B. Marketing Communication give it a thumbs up.

The Bs at B Direct just wish they'd gotten our name right.

Forget What You Learned in English 101
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