Why EVERYTHING about this mailshot is wrong ….

Why EVERYTHING about this mailshot is wrong ….

Direct mail is becoming increasingly rare – what with the cost of postage going up – and this means it is a BRILLIANT opportunity for clever marketers who are keen to get their products and services noticed.

Which is why it was just so ruddy frustrating to receive this mailshot from a company called AMBRO only a few days ago. Everything about it is wrong meaning it is VERY unlikely to get the take up they might have hoped for.

OK, I’m all for giving people credit for having tried and to have at least got something onto my desk, but I’m simply not sure I can even go that far in this instance. However, it does provide a fantastic learning opportunity for the rest of us. I’ve picked out 12 errors – it’s worth having a look at the photo first and see what you think before reading my thoughts …

It’s worth mentioning that I’ve no idea who AMBRO are – I’ve never worked with them before, so this is a COLD mailshot. In itself, not an issue, but it is a case of having to work that much harder to get my attention. Unfortunately they did get my attention – but for all the wrong reasons!

1. The un-enticing envelope. It arrived in a dull brown – and battered, by now – envelope, that announces the company on the front and has been franked. It couldn’t scream ‘unsolicited direct mail’ more if it tried. Frankly, they did well to get past my bin filter at this stage!

2. It’s 100% unengaging. Given all the things they might have chosen to put in this envelope, the contents spilt out onto my kitchen counter in a sea of disappointment. The moment of opening is the perfect time to capture my interest – they failed! They’ve missed a unique ‘lumpy mail’ opportunity to WOW me.

3. All a bit tacky. When you are trying to win new business, surely you’d want to put your best frock on and your best foot forward? The envelope encloses a number of rather dodgy plastic items – are they samples or gifts? Are they really expecting me to use the phone holder (that doesn’t seem to fit my iPhone, by the way) or that drinks coaster? They won’t be gracing my desk I’m afraid. Part of the problem is that everything is just thrown in together in a jumble showing none of the items off as you would wish – collectively they are just a jumble.

4. Poor targeting. There is a Boots nail file holder and a Biotherm cover thingy. Are they assuming I might want to commission something like this? Why would I? My business is marketing consultancy. Or are they hoping I might get my clients to commission the items – if so, they don’t say so.

5. There is no letter. Seriously. Meaning …

  • I’ve no idea who it is from
  • Or what they want to tell me
  • Plus it’s rather rude – you want me to buy your stuff but you can’t even be bothered to write and explain? 

6. There’s no offer. After all, I’m potentially a first-time customer – why wouldn’t you want to entice me with a fantastic offer for me to take up your services … a pack of those plastic business cards perhaps? Or maybe not … !

7. And there’s no deadline. With no offer there can’t be a timescale in which I have to do the thing they want me to do. Crazy – how will they ever measure the impact of this campaign?

8. And there is no call to action. Well, of course there isn’t – there’s no letter after all! What do they want me to do as a result of receiving this bumper parcel? Who do I contact? And how? It’s hard to imagine any of the phone numbers on offer are trackable to help them determine the effectiveness of this campaign.

9. No personality. People buy from people and their failure to include a letter means that I’ve not engaged at a personal level whatsoever. Cialdini talks about the importance of the ‘likeability’ factor – I can’t ‘like’ a non person. I frankly don’t care about them or what they do.

10. No focus on the customer. Another inevitable outcome of NOT including a letter is that they have made NO effort to frame their products into my context. The mailshot is therefore ALL about THEM. Big mistake.

11. No social proof. I might forgive a number of the other issues if they had told me how much other customers love their cards and phone holders. Or how someone’s repeat business or customer satisfaction has improved since using the plastic coasters.

12. The overwhelming ‘so what’ factor. There is a brochure picturing hundreds more plastic bits and pieces. OK, you make plastic stuff – I get it, but why are you telling me? Collectively the mailshot has just made me cross for wasting my time. The bin is simply now the only option.

I’m a great believer in the JFDI mentality, but I really think it’s mistake to translate that into ‘oh, that will do’, or use it as an excuse to not think it through to the best of your ability. Direct mail isn’t cheap; the postage cost of this package was £1.06, plus the cost of the envelope and comps slip, the cost of the brochure. The labour used in packing it all. Not cheap at all.

I’d go so far as to say I’d put good money on predicting the business they do on the back of this campaign. So please learn from this and make sure your mailshots are, at the very least, engaging and actionable. Direct mail works – but you need to work hard on IT before it leaves your business.



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