Traditionally, direct mail has a low rate of return and marketers are constantly looking for a way to spice it up. They hope to gain attention and as a result, additional sales. I recently received a letter in the mail that proves how very wrong these efforts can go.

When I opened the letter, it appeared to be a bill. It included an invoice and account number as well as a description of services. It was from a company with a very generic name. It appeared to be billing me $85 for listing my website on various internet platforms – a service which my very own company offers.

Upon further inspection, I found a line that said “This is not a bill. This is a solicitation.” However, by that time, I was already upset. My initial reaction had been one of fear – that somehow I’d ordered this service accidentally. After that, I became angry that they’d bill me for something that was unclear. By the time I realized this was a solicitation, I simply felt manipulated.

Clearly, this is not the way to gain new clients. Making people feel confused, fearful, angry or manipulated is typically not a wise way to build your brand. So why do it? Because it is an easy way to grab someone’s attention. What seems like a clever marketing ploy to you can sometimes come off terribly to your audience.

So, now you’re stuck. You want attention but you need to get it without feeling cheap or spammy. How do you manage to keep from spamming your clients? Here are three simple guidelines to help you avoid sending materials that can evoke negative reactions.

  1. Don’t intentionally trick your clients or potential clients. Just, don’t.
  2. Before sending anything, think about how you’d react upon receiving it from someone else.
  3. Avoid trash talk and over the top boasting. It doesn’t come off well in political campaigns and it won’t come off well in political pieces.

At the end of the day, think about how you’d like to be approached. Chances are, your customers and potential customers will appreciate being treated the same way.

About KristinZaslavsky (136 Posts)

Kristin has spent her career designing marketing applications that are easy to use, making technology adoption easy on businesses and their clients. She loves nothing more than to patiently show people that technology doesn't need to be scary (even though it sometimes feels like it does).


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