The b direct logo Hive

Mailbox Monday


"Bait and switch."

"Pulling a fast one."

"Faking you out."

No matter how you describe it, the response is human nature. When someone tricks you, it's irritating.

Given that marketers are considered irritating in even the best of circumstances (we fall somewhere under used car salespeople and above elected officials), we should all agree not to do anything to make our sketchy relationship with prospective customers any sketchier.

But, there's a problem.

Since job one for a direct mail campaign is to get opened, it's tempting to send something that will most probably get opened — even if the carrier that's so irresistible has nothing to do with the content inside. We've all received them (and most of us have at some point designed and sent them): outer envelopes that look like they're from FedEx, DHL, UPS, or some other official carrier.

Yes, they stand out. Yes, they get noticed. Yes, they even get opened.

And yes, they are irritating as hell when whatever was sent inside doesn't match the promise made by the oh-so-official carrier outside.

Case in point, we just received a super-official looking, oversized 9"x12" envelope. The address panel is bright yellow and branded as an "IMPORTANT SERVICE PAK." The return address reads "Business Services Department," without actually providing a company name. There are several graphic elements that mirror those that might appear on an actual overnight pak: "Status," "Special Instructions," "Reference Number." There's even a faux sticker with numerical and alphabetical codes and an "ACT NOW BEFORE ..." warning.

Granted, the indicia is for presort standard mail, but with so much so-called official artwork going on, many recipients probably wouldn't notice or necessarily understand what that means.

So, what's inside this bright, IMPORTANT, official pak?

A brief — and not even personalized — letter.

"Dear Business Owner ..." it begins. Apparently our business is now eligible for High-Speed Internet from Comcast. We're encouraged to contact them and discuss our needs with a business service consultant. The letter is signed "Comcast Business," and not by a real (or even imagined) person. The P.S. is a reminder about an offer that we actually haven't heard about before. (Say what?)

After building up some mystery outside, the inside of the package is a great big dud.

It's no mystery then that the Bs are giving this package a thumbs-down. Thanks for nothin'.

Mailbox Monday
To E or Not to E

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