In direct mail marketing, it’s all about the open. Well, that and the response, but you won’t get to response unless the recipient opens the envelope on the way to the recycling bin. There are many ways to get people to open an envelope: in the magic balance of list, offer and creative, having a creative way of expressing a relevant offer to the recipient is usually the best bet. But in the Internet era, people are especially attuned both to relevance (good) and BS (bad). People form trust models in a 50 millisecond look at a web page, people form personal filtering strategies for telling legitimate email from spam. But you still see marketers abusing trust in direct mail.
Case in point, the “Expedited Envelope” I received in the mail yesterday. It’s a pretty blatant play to get me to open the envelope through deception. So the sender has immediately insulted my intelligence before I even open the envelope. And I can guarantee you that when I do, and the disconnect between the “Extremely Urgent” message and the actual offer becomes clear, the sender has started our relationship with a clear basis of mistrust. Maybe they’ll get the open, but at what cost?
Spammers survive because people open their emails, and if a tiny fraction of the millions sent end up in a sale, it’s all worth their while. The Expedited Envelope and its ilk are all in the same spirit. They insult your intelligence before you open the envelope, they further insult you with the contents. But if they can bamboozle you into buying from they it’s all worth it. (I get a lot of this kind of direct mail from political parties, by the way. Go figure).
Let’s parse this one I got:
Back of the envelope:
As though it were a brand of the Expedited Envelope Service.
There’s a promise for you. You be the judge.
Front of the envelope:
I can tell it’s expedited. It has a pre-sorted first class stamp on it! (Though that will soon lose its luster.)
(There, it says it again! It must be true!)
• This Process Expedited Envelope and other important messages that are expedited and delivered according to their specific class of postage.
Huh? So expedited that they could not finish a sentence? And it isn’t just an Expedited Envelope, it’s a “Process Expedited Envelope”. Does that cost extra?
• For Expedited Envelope services, there is no weight limit for envelopes containing business related letters other materials.
There is no weight limit because they’re making it up.
• When using Expedited Envelope services 2nd day there are weight regulations and are subject to postal increase.
Huh? They expedited this one past the proofreader.
• Do not send cash, cash equivalent or jewelry.
Here’s where they lost me. If they had sent cash, cash equivalent or jewelry, I might have opened the envelope! As a kid I always opened up the mail that had a penny glued inside.
PO BOX 25122 Santa Ana CA 92799-7490
Odd that the PO Box number and the 9-digit ZIP Code extension don’t match up the way they’re supposed to.
At this point, I doubt it. But it soon will be.
It is often effective to send a truly relevant and creative offer using real express methods such as UPS, Federal Express and the US Postal Service. It is a way of getting people’s attention, and tracking delivery. But you start the relationship with a basis of authenticity and respect, and let the contents speak for themselves. Don’t start your customer relationship on a basis of deceipt.
I’ll hang on to this “Expedited Envelope” as a reminder, and hope I haven’t missed out on any cash equivalents inside. But some things are better left unopened.