Good Luck with That Marketing!

Do you want to sell me a house? A car? A vacation? A club membership? A new credit card? A funeral plot? Life insurance? Stocks? Whatever it is, I am, like you, on the “A” prospect list. People like you and me make a decent income and we are not afraid to part with a little money to buy things. But — and it’s a BIG BUT — most of the marketing we receive to entice us to part with our money is doomed to failure.

This week American Express/Delta sent me six letters (all the same letter) addressed to every company I have ever owned, two of which I dissolved a decade ago! I left all of the letters out on the dining room table to take a picture of them, which I was going to use to illustrate waste and poor mailing list quality — especially interesting since American Express sells their mailing lists! Unfortunately, my wife, who has a cleaning fetish, threw them away. She thought they were junk mail since they were all the same letter!

I need not have worried, the following week all six letters showed up in the mail again. What does it say about a company that has such incredibly wasteful marketing practices? I mean, the odd duplicate is acceptable, even expected, but a dozen letters in a week! You’re killing trees, people! How about the $50 coffee-table book and boxed writing set that a North Carolina real estate development, The Cliffs, overnighted to my 14-year-old son as “sales material” after he visited their website and requested more info? A beautiful package full of photographs that told you absolutely nothing useful about the land or homes they were attempting to sell to a 14-year-old with five hundred bucks in the bank (which is not likely to stay there beyond the next version of Xbox!)

Or Porsche of North America who sent me a $100 sales kit for their new turbo rather than a simple letter offering me, an existing customer, the first test drive when the new model arrived in my local showroom. I sold the sales kit on e-bay for $48 and bought a different car when the leasing department told me I had to pay the same rate I had paid the first three years (although the car was now half its original value) if I wanted to continue to own the car. Or I could drive 150 miles to the dealer and negotiate new terms!!

A high-end resort sends me an e-mail offer in 5-point type. I can read it but I know for a fact that 55% of people over forty can’t, so they won’t! I also know most of their prime customers are in their 50s! Amazing, but typical of many high-end resorts. Some 23-year-old web-graphics guy thinks big text looks uncool so he uses small-type text. No one thinks to actually check this “small” but important fact and so the email offer is doomed to deletion before it’s ever read. If you look at the resort’s website, you will see the trend continued! Nice, neat, and un-readable to well over 55% of their potential customers.

Nike, after a brilliant long-copy campaign a few years ago, just ran a series of two-page ads in 8-point reverse type (white type on a black background). It looks way cool, only it’s so small you can’t actually read it! All of these examples are current, insane, and true. Big companies, small companies, and probably your company waste untold fortunes on ineffective marketing. Just because a company is BIG or well known does NOT mean their marketing works (that is, produces leads and sales) and certainly does not mean their marketing is worth emulating.

Most large companies have TERRIBLE MARKETING! Don’t copy them!

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