Direct Marketing Can't Afford To Be Hit Or Miss

Once the mail enters our house, I sort it into 3 piles: handwritten letters, bills and “other stuff”.  I actually read the handwritten notes first, relish in the moment of how nice it is to receive a handwritten note in the mail these days, and then file them away in my “notes” drawer.  The bills, I stack up and then carefully take to my office to open at a later time.  It just doesn’t feel right opening the gas bill and then beginning dinner.  This last pile of “other stuff” gets separated further… magazines and sales catalogs…I like to keep those to look at when I’m cooking or chatting on the phone…then there is the newspaper sales sheets and coupon books for grocery stores and places I’ve never heard of.  They all go in the “recycling bin” pile.  The last grouping of mail is just random post cards and newsletters from places that know me, like health clubs (well they don’t REALY know me, or they would know I’m not coming!), charities, insurance companies, etc.

Which brings me to two interesting things I received in the mail last week…a little booklet from our health insurance company and a 2-brochure poly-bagged mailing from a charity I support.  Both had messages of women’s health.  But what I thought was very interesting about both mailings was the level of detail that each spent on delivering their message.  The booklet was direct and to the point about the importance of a Pap test and mammogram. The most important information printed in the booklet was “A Pap test and mammogram are covered services…” I actually felt proud of my health insurance company for being so proactive to share this information.  Not only do they think these issues are important, but also, they are covered services.  The brochures from the charity focused on breast cancer awareness and screening.  It included many stories related to reducing risk, ways of finding out answers to your questions, drug therapies and how they work, of course ways to provide support to the cause and even a proposed bill (H.R.1740) still sitting in the House of Representatives. Combined, the brochures included over 40 pages of information that actually kept my attention.

But after I thought about these two pieces more, a few things bothered me related to the way they were distributed and who they targeted.  Regarding the charity piece, I began to feel that many donations have been spent on this fancy piece mailed to probably every supporter, once a quarter.  And sure, one of the pieces “was made possible by” 3 pharmaceutical companies, but I wonder if this is the best way to distribute the information, in a quarterly printed newsletter, that in most homes might be placed in the recycling bin as “junk mail.”  Are there other ways to reach supporters more frequently and less costly using electronic and social media?  Perhaps a consideration for how the piece would be used later.  I could forward and share electronic media and it will be timely and updated real time.  I’d have to carry this printed brochure folded in my tote bag and have to remember to show it to friends and family.

The other thing that bothered me was the booklet that came from our insurance company was addressed to my husband instead of me.  Although it states in the booklet “you were selected to receive this information based on claims and enrollment data.”  Again, in most homes this would be in the recycling bin.  But I actually read it even though it was not addressed to me, the only female in the house.  If you have the best targeting information, medical claims data, enrollment data, or the like, I think you should use it.  Nothing like individualized care, sent via the right channel of course.



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