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Thankless Job


Many moons ago (when the Bs worked together at a larger direct marketing agency), we created a B2B mail package that pulled a remarkable 13% inbound response, had 100% follow-up recall, exceeded client expectations, won numerous creative rewards, and was also a crunchy, nutritious breakfast alternative.

We sent a custom cereal box to VAR (value-added reseller) software developers. These are extraordinarily talented individuals who work odd hours, play video games (when they're not programmig them), participate in cosplay, and consume vast quantities of cereal. We knew this because we took the time to ask.

The cereal box was covered in relevant messaging and inside jokes. For example, the standard nutritional information box housed our client's product specs. Every feature and benefit was expressed in breakfast or cereal language. There was even a prize inside. A terrific campaign, we expected it to succeed (maybe not quite as well as it did). We expected to win awards and generate some industry press. What we never expected was that we would receive "Thank you" notes from the campaign's recipients.

But, we did.

One prospect actually contacted us to see if he could get several more packages to give to his team for Christmas.

("Holy Santa Claus, Batman!")

Take it from us, with more than nine decades of combined advertising, design, and direct marketing experience, we can assure you that this is not just unusual. It well may have been a once-in-a-career experience!

Let's face it, what we do is often a thankless job. No one sits around thinking, "Wow, I hope I get some direct mail today." Or, "Gee, I can't wait to see how many unsolicited email offers are waitig for me." Or, "Golly, I wish my favorite show had more commercial interruptions."

In fact, people don't particularly like or trust us. In a Gallup poll published last year, only 12% of U.S. adults rated the honesty and ethical standards of advertising practitioners as “high” or “very high.” Almost 3 times more (34%) rated our standards as “low” or “very low.”

That's discouraging. But, it's also a wake-up call. As advertisers — and, specifically, as direct marketers — we need to do what we can to improve this. How? By making sure that what we send to people (via any channel) is relevant, targeted, personal, and meaningful. We need to clean up our data, fine-tune our messaging, and speak to what our customers need, not just what we want to sell.

Thank you notes are few and far between. But, making sure we are sending the right offer to the right person at the right time? Well, that shouldn't be the exception.

It should be the rule.

Thank you.

Direct Mail is Dead. Long Live Direct Mail.
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