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.

The Importance of IxD

This is a nickel’s worth of free advice going out to the NADA guide website. Seriously guys, between the poor general layout of your starting space at the top – which looks sort of like a banner ad to begin with – combined with the obvious ad to the right which further muddies the water, you need to do some serious rethinking about how you’ve laid out the start of your funnel. I actually visited the site twice thinking I did something wrong the first time because banner blindness caused me to totally skip over the “Start Here” button. This is a lot like what I saw over at 37 Signals recently, which was confusing for similar reasons. Why are people doing this?

Ineffective Advertising

Whatever this background ad is on CNN, I think it deserves an award for how utterly ineffective it is. It’s only by convention that I even knew it was an ad.

Note: Apparently it’s for The Newsroom on HBO.

Nordstrom Multizone Ad Background

As far as invasive, multizone targeted ads go, this one from Nordstrom’s is pretty poorly thought out. Pssst, guys, your seams are showing. Next time, maybe use a background that scales properly with your overlay.

CNN Has Priorities

When breaking news happens, you can count on CNN… to not really care too damn much. I’m frankly pretty shocked that CNN doesn’t have a trigger that fires to immediately disable advertising like this on breaking news. It’s a hell of an impression to leave on a site visitor.

The Big Picture Misses It

For the life of me, I’ll never understand why content providers actively make development decisions that directly prevent users from accessing their content. They are missing one of the core principles of human communication – eliminate noise in the signal. If you put hurdles in the way of your users, they’ll simply leave. I think it’s worse because I expect so much more from Boston.com and The Big Picture.