If You Make Just One Resolution, this Should Be It!

Every three months, as sure as the sun rises in the east and press operators like coffee, it arrives in my mailbox. I have no idea why.

I don’t think I ever gave them my name. I don’t recall ever having done business with this company. Still…for more than four years now, they’ve mailed me their office supply catalog—all two and a half pounds of it.

I’ve tried to stop it. Believe me. I called, and a very pleasant lady took down our address and promised to take us off the mailing list. That was about three years ago.

In an Elvis-inspired moment, I wrote “Return to sender.” on the piece and dropped it back in the mailbox. But apparently they’re channeling Stevie Wonder … Signed, sealed, delivered. I’m yours!

Uninvited and unwelcome
“I think any mail that comes to me unannounced is junk and worthy of the recycle bin.” That comment from Darrell generated some heated exchanges in one of my online discussion groups, but really, he has a valid point.

Unannounced — “I’ve never done business with you. Who are you?”

Unannounced — “This is not relevant to me at all.”

I know some of you marketers out there will be quoting Henry Ford: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” But really, there is a difference between relevant mail and junk mail.

“Junk mail is simply an offer that has been sent to the wrong person,” chimed in Peggy on the discussion drop. “We track direct mail in…” Ah Ha! There’s the problem. Two problems actually:

  • Someone is throwing precious money away by sending me this catalog. My company is a small one, and our needs don’t come close to the bulk quantities that are offered by this office-supply provider.
  • Sadly, this office-supply provider does not track. And that is even more to the point. After more than four years and at least 12 recycled catalogs, the company hasn’t received any business from me. Yet, it keeps sending me this rather heavy, full-color catalog that I don’t even open.

Hello…I’m not your target group. How many years will it take for you to realize that fact? Even worse, I’m starting to have very negative feelings about your company. And, quite frankly, when I want to tell a story about direct mailers that just don’t get it, you’re my go-to example.

Sabine Lenz is the founder of PaperSpecs.com, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.

Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.

Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge. 

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  • Greenerprinter

    Really enjoyed this article! As an eco-friendly printer, we can’t stress these values enough. Using variable data printing is another way to keep those mailers direct and more personable and has been shown to have a much better return rate.