Update January 14, 2009: Just one day after posting this article, they got me again. The culprit was a plain legal-sized envelope. What made me open it was the fact that it was addressed by hand and had a real postage stamp. What should have clued me in was the fact that it did not have any return address. The good news is that I can now save over $9,000 on a new Jeep.
There has been a lot written about junk mail and how most of us hate it. I have a different perspective than most folks. When I was young, I obviously did not receive any mail so my Mom always let me open the junk mail. Before I started going to school I used anxiously to wait for Eddie the Mailman to deliver my junk mail.
I am not a junk mail lover. That should be obvious since I am calling it junk mail, but every once in a while I find something interesting…if I open the package. That has to be the biggest goal/question of mass mail marketing folks. How do I get a consumer to open my package?
The credit card solicitations are easy to recognize since they usually have the card names on them. I always tear them into shreds because they often contain some information about you. There are also the “sweepstakes” mailings that tell you “you may already be a millionaire.” These are enticing, but I still pitch them. I sometimes open the thick blue envelopes containing coupons, but I couldn’t tell you the last time I found one that I could use. My house does not need windows, a patio, a stonewall, an awning, or waterproofing of my basement.
I have noticed that the creativity of marketers is really improving. One package that got me a few months ago came in an envelope that looked like the one the IRS uses to mail your income tax refund. It contained a “check” that “could be mine” if I joined something or other. I pitched it.
The most recent trojan snail to gain access to me was a piece of mail from Time Magazine. I am not interested in the magazine, but they printed, “DO NOT BEND” on the outside of the envelope next to our address. That “DO NOT BEND” intrigued me so I opened it. There was absolutely nothing in the envelope that bending would have damaged.
It contained the typical solicitation that promised to save me lots of money if I subscribed to Time For Kids. They did not even send me a calendar or return address labels. This type of mail usually would have ended up in the trash, but they got me to open it. Their marketing folks should get a prize for enticing me to open the envelope. That was very creative marketing, however, I did not order the magazine.
Have you ever wondered who is selling your name to these mailing list? One thing that I did years ago was to use different variations of my name on subscriptions, etc. After a while I could get an idea of where solicitators got my name. Mailing lists had some value.
My son used to fight back by taking the postage paid envelopes, stuff them with solicitations from other retailers and mail them. He would not fill out any of the forms or include anything that contained our names; it was just his way of protesting excessive junk mail.
Another bothersome marketing ploy is when magazines stuff their pages with those little subscription cards. I find the unattached ones particularly irritating as I find myself picking them off of the floor. I have even had some “fly” like a paper airplane and deposit under a piece of furniture.
There is a solution. Well it is not really a solution, but a way to get back a little. Those little cards are postage paid and the company is charged only if it is mailed. Mail them! Do not fill them out, just mail them. The magazine gets charged, the post office makes some money and you get a sense of justice. Ok, not really justice, but at least it is a statement of protest. After all you paid for the magazine.
Sometimes it just feels good to win the little battles.