by Chris Martins, Product Marketing Manager, Trillium Software
Let me explain my “Jerry Maguire” reference. My son is a senior in high school, which means that he’s been deluged with brochures and other marketing materials designed to entice interest in various colleges and get him to apply. If you’ve had a child of similar age, you know what I mean. It’s not a reflection of academic, athletic or artistic prominence; it’s merely how it’s done nowadays. Schools want as many applications as possible.
One school sent him an extremely attractive eight page brochure that went to great extremes to showcase the school’s attractive coastline campus and various amenities. Of the many solicitations he received, this was no doubt one of the more impressive efforts. It was a gorgeous piece and no doubt an expensive one. But the impact – and any possibility of being persuasive - was lost by the accompanying letter, a letter that, though correctly addressed to my son, also included an equivocating “or Current Occupant” underneath. So much investment in the look of a brochure, but so little commitment to being confident about the person to whom it was supposedly addressed!
In terms of my son, a bad first impression ensured that it was also the last impression.
I’m not a direct mail expert, though we have plenty of those working at our sister company, the Customer Interaction Division of Harte Hanks. But it stands to reason that being accurate – and being confident in that accuracy – matters to your chances of success. Very often, when it involves direct mail, the focus is on the address. But it’s not just about getting postal addresses correct so that you don’t absorb costs for expensive mailings that don’t reach their intended targets. The impact there is pretty straightforward to calculate and understand.
Less obvious is the matter of what kind of impression you make when you reach the intended target. That might seem soft and impressionistic, but it’s no less important. All the artistry and creativity in the world can be undermined – or totally undone – by mistakes that convey a lack of professionalism. When, as a marketer, you make such mistakes, they’ll be reciprocated by a lack of confidence from your targets in terms of your ability to execute whatever your offering is. If you cannot get the name right – and be confident that you do – why should I do business with your organization?
And this is not a direct mail issue. The marketing context, whether it is physical or digital, does not matter. Inattention to the details, in this case data accuracy and trust in that accuracy, will cost you dearly. When you don’t deliver the requisite professionalism, you can be assured that your targets won’t “show you the money.”