Who are you? Who, who? Who, who?

Seriously, can we talk about this postcard I got in the mail recently? For the sake of the company, I won’t name them here, as I don’t think that’s entirely fair to them. Maybe someone from their business will see this though and take it to heart. Absent that, hopefully you’ll understand my point and never, ever send out a mailer like this.

As a marketing mailer, I’m not sure how many ways it could have failed more. The only piece of information that was on it, aside from my address was the company’s name. In the photo, you can see a fancy picture of a bird. Not pictured is the backside, which is just two more pictures of birds. That’s it. Three pictures of birds, my address, and the company’s name. But so, so many birds.

Aside from omitting their name, I’m note sure what else could have been done wrong. First off, what the hell do birds have to do with your business (answer, nothing, after looking into them)? Second, why am I getting it (I know why, I think, but have no way of confirming that)? Third, what do you expect me to do with this? There’s no information at all on the card about what sort of action I’m supposed to take, or some special promotion going on, or some connection they’re hoping to make. No call to action of any kind. No URLs. No social media information. No phone number. Nothing. The only reason I even bothered to look into the company is because marketing is something I have more than a passing connection to, and I was curious why someone would think this was an acceptable marketing campaign. What’s crazy is that this is actually a marketing firm themselves. Knowing that, and getting this, I would never hire them to run a campaign for me.

<edit>As was pointed out to me, I neglected originally to point out the big black box which implies there’s supposed to be something with it. I saw this, of course, and it only makes it weirder. Why are you mailing something that’s decoupled? Why do you expect the recipient to bother contacting the postmaster over your failed marketing mailer? Why are the pieces able to be separated at all? Why not use that space to give me some information about the campaign you’re pushing, with a link to the missing info? So many more questions are created by this that don’t help the company’s case.</edit>

Things that should have been done:

  • Include a a call to action of some kind. Any kind. Give me some idea why I got this and what you want me to do with it. Pictures of birds is not a message.
  • Toss at least a Twitter handle or something on there. Again, anything that’ll at least maybe get me to follow up with you.
  • Don’t use three pictures of birds to take up 3/4ths of your usable card space. Don’t use three pictures of anything to take up 3/4ths of you card, unless you’re including a message over the top of them. You’re just wasting printing and mailing costs.
  • Trackable URLs are your friend.
  • This is one of three places a QR code is acceptable (the other two being posters, or publications like magazines or newspapers).
  • Don’t rely on your recipient to bother chasing down missing information.

Otherwise, this went straight to the round file. Please don’t ever let your business allow something like this go out the door, especially given the cost overhead involved making, approving, printing, and shipping it. You’re burning your money.

Higher Ed Web Rant

So, last night I got off on a bit of a rant regarding the nature of web development in higher ed. There was no particular reason for it – well, that’s not totally true, I guess. Chris Coyier wrote a post on the process of CMS selection for higher ed. That’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart given the work I did at .eduGuru and our CMS research. I’d been thinking about it some recently, and was glad to see him take the topic on. But that got me rolling on higher ed web development, sort of swinging from one issue to another. What follows is a Storify of the rant that took place on Twitter. Some posts have been reorganized for narrative consistency.

Sit down for a bit and read, hopefully enjoy, and feel free to share your thoughts back either on Twitter or below in comments. It’ll take a bit, as there’s a lot here. I’ve tried to also include various replies and feedback that were also shared to build on the discussion (and will continue to do so as comments are made in the short term).

If, for any reason, folks feel motivated to use anything I’ve said in this Twitter stream elsewhere, consider all the content available under a Creative Commons. Share it, build on it, and do great work.

Creative Commons License This work by Michael Fienen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Based on a work at https://twitter.com/fienen.

^ Be sure to use the “Read Next Page” button to continue ^
View the story at Storify if you can’t see the ‘next page’ button, which happens sometimes apparently when the embed doesn’t size itself right.

(Photo Credit: CC by 2.0 ralphrepo)

Thoughts on Google Contributor

Google recently began testing a new platform called Contributor. The long and short of it is that as a visitor, you can “subscribe” to a site for $1 to $3, and in return they’ll take ads off the site and give a part of the money back to the site owner. It’s sort of like a blend of Patreon and Readability (back when you could donate to the site you were saving from – as it looks like maybe they don’t do that anymore now).

It’s an interesting move by Google, in my opinion, and one that speaks volumes of some of their underlying goals. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of ways this is good for them, and can generate a lot of self-serving data about valuable content on websites and the like, so I’m stopping short of calling it an altruistic system. But, that also doesn’t detract from the value that it creates if site developers can use it as a means to maintain and encourage good maintenance and content. It also has the possibility to create marginally more stable revenue streams for sites, since subscriptions are much more consistent that pay-per-clicks.

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Simply Beautiful Marketing

Sometimes brands can surprise you. KMart did it recently, in a way that I’m still a bit on the fence about. Don’t get me wrong, it was funny, but I’ll be interested to see if they actually saw a sales bump from it. Dove though, man, I give them a ton of credit for knowing  their message and their audience in this video.