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Mailbox Monday


We stopped recommending "stealth" direct mail packages many years ago. Back in 2001, shortly after the World Trade Center attacks, direct mail marketing was plagued by a terrifying biohealth scare. Two waves of mailings, laced with deadly anthrax, were sent to media locations and members of the U.S. Senate. Sadly, five of the recipients/mail handlers died. 

Our Queen B was on the Board of the New England Direct Marketing Association at the time. At a number of industry "Town Meetings," she advised marketers to continue mailing, but to be as transparent as possible. Using mystery as a hook simply wasn't going to be a good idea for quite a while.

Years later, we still suggest that clients send mail pieces that are forthright and honest. As consumers, we don't like receiving "bait and switch" packages ourselves, and we don't recommend that kind of creative. Fake FedEx envelopes, bogus "checks" peeping through windows ... these may get opened. But they also make customers mad.

And, that's never a good thing.

Recently, we received a fairly stealthy direct mail piece from Verizon's Fios service. The package was plain, with a New Jersey return address that didn't include the sender's name. The envelope paper stock was nice though, thick and with a pleasant sheen to it. And, there was a stamp, rather than an indicia.

Inside, was a single card, printed on one side only. "Thank you," it read, along with a personalized note thanking us for choosing Fios, insisting that we were valued, and assuring us that we can continue to count on the Fios network for "superfast internet speeds and crystal clear entertainment."

Getting a "Thank you" note from a company that's essentially a utility was a nice novelty. As creatives though, we couldn't help but think they lost an opportunity. The card could certainly have been more visually interesting and attractive. An inclusion — even something as simple as a refrigerator magnet or sticky note pad — would have stayed with us longer. The "Thank you" wasn't special enough.

B Direct's verdict? Thumbs up for strategy; thumbs down for execution.

It's nice to be appreciated, but there needed to be a bit more there, there.

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