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Expert Advice On Direct Marketing: SPAM Is The New Best Practice!

by David Brock on October 6th, 2010

I just received this unsolicited email from someone I have never heard of, about something I have absolutely no interest in.  They were soliciting my help in writing a blog post about them.  It turns out, I thought it was an outstanding suggestion, though probably not for the reasons they suggest.  Here’s the email:

“Good afternoon.

 Please find attached two press releases related to XXX’s presence at the upcoming DMA conference in San Francisco and an exciting new product that one of their companies, YYY Solutions, is debuting. This innovative new printing process allows lenticular technology to be applied to direct mail without sacrificing customization. You might find some interesting content for your blog! Should you have any further questions, please follow up with the appropriate media contacts referenced in the press releases. Thank you for your time and attention.”  (This is the actual email minus the specific names).

Here’s some more interesting data:

1.  It was sent by someone I don’t know, from a company I am unaware of and would normally have no involvement with.

2.  It was not addressed to me personally. The email header was not addressed to me, it was actually addressed to the person who sent me the email (apparently, they put everyone they sent this to in the BCC field).  Additionally, the greeting only said, “Good Afternoon.”  It didn’t mention my name.

3.  It was not signed, the only thing at the end was the company’s URL.  I was curious about the company  (this kind of idiocy makes such great blog fodder).  Their home page start with this: 

“XXX Corporation is a global provider of personalized marketing solutions, with over 70 affiliated companies. We provide expertise to over 250 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than 3 million small businesses, delivering innovative products, technologies and services to meet a wide range of communication needs. With us it’s all about YOU! “

“We create products, services & opportunities that connect people & grow businesses.  XXX Corporation is one of the largest privately held companies in the United States providing business and personal communications products, technologies and services.  We’re the people behind the interactive, printing and marketing solutions that help build the world’s most popular brands; our products are embraced by everyone from brides to big box retailers.”

4.  They go on to say, they have 70 + Subsidiaries employing 9000 people.  They serve 275 Fortune 500 companies and over 3 million small businesses and consumers rely on their products and services.

5.  Further research into their web site shows they are in the direct marketing business–they create targeted programs and materials to help their clients effectively reach their customers, presenting their products and solutions in compelling and creative ways.

So all of this is really interesting.  Since they are an “expert” in direct marketing and communicating with customers, I would assume they use these outstanding capabilities and practices in their own marketing campaigns.  Their expertise, research, and great communication skill enabled them to send this email to me.  It caused me to draw these conclusions on best practice in Direct Marketing: apparently, targeting is no longer a best practice in Direct Marketing.  Reaching the right prospect, with a compelling message that the customer is likely to have high interest in is no longer important.  Also, it would seem that personalization has also fallen out of favor.  It would also seem that establishing some sort of bond or relationship in the communication is no longer what Direct Marketing Professionals think is important.  After all, the only signature was a hyperlink to a company web site.

I don’t normally talk much about Direct Marketing, I don’t have any expertise in it.  But the best practices demonstrated by this company run counter to all my instincts, and to what all my friends who are Direct Marketing experts have been telling me.  I’m really wondering, am I that out of it?

I do like programs like this.  They represent a great example of how companies practice what they preach.  In looking at the way this company executes its own direct marketing programs, I would tend to guess any organization hiring them could expect to see the same done for them.  So their prospective customers might consider, “Do we want our company’s products and services represented the same way as this company promotes their own?”

Maybe I’m being too hard, after all their Direct Marketing piece did achieve its objective.  They have provided fascinating content for a blog post!

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9 Comments
  1. In addition to a good laugh, your examples of bad processes and execution are valuable. Hopefully, the creators are reading your reviews and lreaning something!

    • I just wish there weren’t so many examples!!!! I only write about less than 5% of the emails/calls. Sad statement about the state of our profession.

  2. Joe Public permalink

    “It caused me to draw these conclusions on best practice in Direct Marketing: apparently, targeting is no longer a best practice in Direct Marketing. Reaching the right prospect, with a compelling message that the customer is likely to have high interest in is no longer important. Also, it would seem that personalization has also fallen out of favor. It would also seem that establishing some sort of bond or relationship in the communication is no longer what Direct Marketing Professionals think is important. After all, the only signature was a hyperlink to a company web site.” –David Brock

    I can see how you would draw those conclusions David. I suspect that many others have followed suit and also jumped to erroneous conclusions based on limited information and expertise.

    • “Joe,” thanks for the observation. My odd sense of humor sometimes gets in the way of communicating. Hopefully you understood my tongue was firmly and deeply planted in my cheek in drawing those conclusions.

      Practicing what we preach, however, is critical to building credibility and trust with customers. If a Direct Marketing company, in it’s own Direct Marketing programs, does not practice what it preaches (if you research this specific company more closely, you find they “preach” all the best practices we know ands that I spoof in the article), then what can prospective clients expect if they then buy these services from this company? My tendency would be to expect no better.

  3. Great observation.

    I also like the sales pitches from SEO or web design companies who can not even get near the top for their own compnaies. I suppose you should only use the company top of google for ‘web design’ or ‘seo’.

    Or the brochure pitches for web design companies. Shouldn’t they be using the web?

    Or pitches from Currency dealers who tell me they can ‘advise’ me on where the market is going. If they can, why not trade yourself and make a fortune?

    There are many, now you have got me going……………and another thing……

    • John, thanks for joining the discussion–it’s scary the number of examples we see every day.

  4. Éric Koulourath permalink

    A good article. It could have been funny if it was only a fiction. Unfortunately, Direct Marketing campaigns often look like mass market advertisement.

    • Eric, it’s unfortunately so true—these are the companies that often resort to some of the worst campaigns–going against all prinicples of best practice. It’s a shame they think so little of their customers and their customers’ customers.

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