Through the letterbox: value creation please?

MMC1 MMC2 I got a couple of pieces of direct mail last week which I thought worth commenting on. Firstly a book from the Mail media centre. Great excitement – everyhing you ever wanted to know about Direct Mail. Great. Only the book is empty. Why? Because you have everything you need on the website. Very droll. But I'll tell you something. The first time I logged onto the site was to get the link to tell you about it. There's a flaw in creating something of perceived value, leading the recipient up the garden path then leaving them with waste paper. Because the point of the mailing was to give them something with tangible value. Which I don't think this is. Would I prefer a book to a website? Yes I would. So having gone to the cost of printing a book and mailing it to me do you really think I'm going to control my chuckles (yup you really got me there) and obediently log onto the website.

Actually my first thought once I had opened up the piece was not about the website or how well I had been fooled. It was for the hapless postmen who if my memory serves me correctly have been following a programme of industrial action because they think they're handing out a ton of worthless direct mail and not getting paid for it. Creating worthless books as part of a direct mail for your own postmen to deliver looks like a bit of an own goal to me. I think I'll present this to my local postie and see what he makes of it.

And onto a mailing by the Bible Society – who are trying to get money out of me to pay for the printing of Bibles for the Chinese. And including a couple of printed pages with a postit note explaining that they really have been printed in China – and inviting you to pray for the Chinese Christians who will receive the Bible you're just about to make a donation for.  Now I might turn around to the Bible Society and ask why they are 'wasting' money printing tens of thousands of pages in a language I can't read and mailing them to potential donors. But it doesn't work that way at all. The flimsy (and creased pages are a reminder that value is more than production values. There are people who are making do with flimsy bits of paper like this. All I have to do is write a cheque to give them a printed Bible which is altogether more substantial. Suddenly these flimsy torn pieces of paper feel valuable to me. Even if I can't read what is printed on them. Excellent work. Bsocmail2

Direct mail is such a transient medium then creat ives ought really to think very hard about how they can create tangible value from it. Its all going to go in the bin anyway. So think of what you can do to slow down that inevitable process and make something different happen. By making something more valuable than the sum of its parts. Ooh and I also received the latest issue of Directory – new ideas in direct (and digital) communications edited by my good friend Patrick Collister. Its chock full of brilliant award winning direct campaigns from all over the world. You can expect me to write about some of them very shortly.



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