Marketing That Makes Sense for Who We Are
The concept of marketing that makes sense for who we are was strongly reinforced by one of our new clients – so much so that, although I had been considering writing on this topic, I found it important to give it a higher priority.
I appreciate that this topic is an integral part of branding, however, this post zooms in on how some things can easily create an image that is inappropriate for the purpose at hand.
As part of a marketing test, our new client wanted to insert a “special piece” into 20% of the pieces being mailed out. The original plan had been to use # 10 envelopes, but given the size of the special piece, we had to go to a 5 7/8” X 9 1/2″ envelope. Nonetheless, the client still wanted to use the #10 envelopes for the other 80% of the mailing that contained a folded letter, a brochure and a return envelope. What’s important here is that this had far less to do with cost and much more to do with image.
Simply, the rationale was that, as our client is a charitable organization, they did not want to give the impression of being wasteful by using a more expensive envelope than required for the other 80%. It only makes sense that if a charitable organization appears to be wasting money, at any level, potential donors may question just how their contributions might be used, and this could result in lower donations, right across the board.
On a similar note and where appropriate, many other organizations that we work with prefer to mail their newsletters as self-mailers, rather than inserting them into envelopes. I should note that, in Canada, provided that a mailing piece is securely bound and cannot come apart, the item can be mailed as a self-mailer for both presorted Addressed Admail and Publications Mail. In these cases, organizations can save on the cost of the envelopes, associated printing and insertion charges. We have mailed millions of these types of self-mailers over the years and have yet to hear one report on damage! For some organizations, this can also be a great way to save money and appear frugal.
Interestingly, inasmuch as we want to demonstrate thrift in some instances, the opposite can be said for other types of organizations. We just completed a direct marketing project for a large financial institution, where we mailed a high-end magazine along with a cover letter. Asked to coordinate the print on the letters, we selected a premium stock. The final package was as our client and their clients would expect – a high-end piece that fit the brand, image, and nature of the client’s business.
Regardless of the size or type of organization though, I think that everyone must also try to avoid the “silly factor”, which occurs when we do something that causes people to shake their heads – and it does happen. For example, a few years ago we were asked to mail single, one-page business letters in 9” X 12” envelopes. This was basic, non-promotional business correspondence, so there would be no reason to build intrigue or anything of that nature by using a 9” X 12” envelope. When we inquired, we learned that there wasn’t any reason that the letters couldn’t be folded and mailed in #10 envelopes. The difference in price, using today’s postage rates, is $0.66 per piece. On a thousand pieces, that’s $660 and on 100,000 pieces that’s $66,000 – and that’s silly – and worse yet, most people would recognize this. Fortunately, the pieces were mailed using #10 envelopes.
Isolating the “silly factor” and setting it aside (which we hopefully all can do), at the end of the day, only you can decide what type(s) of marketing makes sense for who you are. I do find it interesting though, that in some cases we want to tone things down to generate revenue, whereas in other cases, we want to maintain a constant, prestige image to obtain the same objective. I guess it’s just like the old saying “different strokes for different folks”.