direct mail, Fundraising, Marketing, Media, USPS

USPS Cuts To The Chase

USPS pops you an email of today’s delivery.

140 billion images per year, some right to your smartphone.

Have you noticed what’s arriving in your mailbox these days? For many of us, getting Informed Delivery Service saves us from a trip down an icy driveway.

Over a year ago, we signed up for Informed Delivery, and I told you about it.  It’s like X-Ray vision, or electronic surveillance, though that sounds ominous.

American Girl’s catalog and URL are displayed in your email.

Their catalog arrives the same day.

The email alert provides a URL that takes you directly to their website.

The USPS emails you hours before delivery, sending a set of pictures of today’s mail.

In case you have forgotten, the USPS scans over 140 billion letters a year.

The Heifer letter follows their email.

Each of those scans creates a jpg file.  Because of the Intelligent Mail Bar code on the envelope, it tracks that mail to you.   When you sign up, they take your email address, and voila: you have x-ray vision, kind of.

What is really cool, and smart of the post office, is that they have now introduced a URL hyperlink service for advertisers to catch you at your computer, laptop, mobile phone.  Rather than wait for the hike to the mailbox, you can open the piece on line.

Hammacher is America’s oldest catalog company, and also a memorable tongue twister.

USPS knows a multi channel approach includes direct mail, email and web.

And that’s what people are doing.  Advertisers like Flemings Steakhouse, American Girl, Soft Surroundings, Heifer International, Hammacher Schlemmer are taking advantage of the USPS service to get into your heads, if not your hands, as rapidly as possible.

Soft Surroundings invites you into their catalog.

If you haven’t signed up for Informed Delivery at home, you should.  Not only does it tell you what’s coming, you are also on alert for when something does not arrive, like a paycheck, or a bill.

So: you can just wait for the mail, and pursue your daily rituals of fetching for it, or, cut to the chase, and see it now.

 

Thanks for reading!  No, I am not a shill for the USPS, but I do believe that it is taking the right steps to be relevant in a changing world.

 

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direct mail, Marketing

The Roots of Customer Loyalty

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A 100-year-old brand backed by its owner.

We all have brand imprints that are part of our core. Coke, Kellogg, General Electric, Disney — these are trusted, bedrock brands we’ve known since birth.  The most valuable brands today would be Apple, Google, Facebook–but not necessarily the most trusted, yet.

Then, there are those brands which court obscurity.  Names like Zenith, Woolworths, IGA, Rexall…all in their time were once powerhouses.

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A conventional envelope kit with 50 inserts, weighing in at only 3.2 ounces… a postal bargain.

So how is it that a company called Haband has 5,000,000 customers?

I wondered this puzzle when I received their mailing last week.  Haband is a mailorder merchandiser founded in 1915 by two gentlemen: M. Habernickel and John Anderson.  They sold ties to bankers in Manhattan.

Talk about product selection! Who wears ties today?

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Clothing and footwear replace the original Haband product line: neck ties for bankers.

From their early beginnings the Haband brand grew to offer general merchandise, mostly, but not limited to, clothing.

Their style choices are not for everyone, and you would be right to suggest that your parents and grand parents would be more likely targets.  Put another way, getting a Haband mailing is like getting an AARP mailing, only much later.

The secret to Haband’s success is the core… the essence of direct mail.  A champion writes a letter to a customer, providing personal assurance about the desirability of a product.

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The letter is central to the offer, and in this case, Duke’s guarantee of satisfaction.

Duke Habernickel is, I am guessing, the son or grandson of the fabled company’s co-founder.

The products in question range from duck boots to space heaters, from fleece pants to “ForeverSharp” razors.  The broad selection is what I might have found in my late parents’ closets when we moved them into more modest and permanent surroundings.

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Free gifts: knife, watch and pen. Suitable for any Haband customer!

But when it comes to direct marketing, what sells, and what doesn’t sell is more than personal taste.  I have learned that my opinion does not count.

This is a platinum rule, maybe even titanium.  Put another way, just because I wouldn’t buy it doesn’t mean that no one else will buy it.

Au contraire!

Haband is successful because it knows its customer very well, and the customer has a reciprocal expectation and trust in Haband.  Thus, Duke Habernickel signs his name to a letter introducing no less than 46 items for purchase, plus another 3 free gift items to sweeten the deal.

The Haband mailing piece is itself unusual in today’s environment.   With so many products you may have expected a catalog.

Instead, it is a low-color, 6 x 10 envelope stuffed with 47 individual sell sheets, plus letter and reply envelope.

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The kit delivers 47 product sell sheets, from shoes to sharpeners.

The two-sided, 4-color sell sheets each contain the entire deal, embroidered with enthusiastic sell copy, and anchored with individual order form.  They are printed on the lightest coated paper stock available.

While you may question the flimsy medium, Haband gets the 47-piece job done in just under 3.3 ounces, thereby capturing the lowest possible postage rate.  By the square inch, each product has a digest-sized page of display.  Pretty smart.

Duke’s letter is verbose, jumbled, effervescent, and personable.  It is traditional, and lacks the slickness of general agency creative.  The copy is laced with 28 “you’s and your’s” in addition to 8 personal references by name.  More significant however are 7 “me’s, I’s and my’s” illustrating Duke Habernickel’s personal investment in the relationship.

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It would be a challenge for many marketers to claim being “your friend”, but that’s what counts for Haband customers.

For some, the effect may be unctuous, but if you are a Haband customer, you are Duke’s customer, and comfortable with it.  The personal touch is expected and welcomed.

The roots of customer loyalty are founded in matching customer expectations, tone and manner.  Whoever, and wherever those 5,000,000 buyers may be, they will not be discounted as strangers at Haband.

 

Thanks for reading! I believe this is the first Haband piece I have ever received.  I must ask serious questions about what demographic group I have now joined.

 

 

 

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direct mail, Marketing, Sports

Mail Order Magic: The USGA Doubles Down

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Marketing: a good grip that doesn’t let go.

The challenge of any direct marketer is to hold the enchantment of the buyer from the moment of first interest until the next order.  Let me tell you how the United States Golfing Association had me firmly in their grip.

Mind you, I have always been attracted to mail order.

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First mail order purchase.

As a kid, my first experience with mail order was a Robin Hood hat off the back of a Quaker Oats box. I wrote them a letter with a dull purple crayon. Two box tops, a quarter, and four weeks later, I was decked out in a lincoln green cap complete with turkey feather.

Moments later I dissolved onto a path through the tree line behind our house, earnestly in search of rich people to steal from.

My brother and I followed up with another offer, this time, a potato gun from Nabisco Shredded Wheat. More box tops, more coins, more waiting, and our ordnance arrived: two shiny, plastic, blue and red hand guns.

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The properly outfitted small arms mail order buyer.

Operating instructions were basic. Stick the front of the barrel into a potato, and pull away a small plug about the size of a pencil eraser. Choose a target. Pull the trigger. The little wad of potato would fly across the living room and roll to a stop under the couch.

After a couple of potato bits wound up in the electric space heater, the jig was up.

But the magic remains.   It’s important for cataloguers, mailers and weekend supplement advertisers that their buyer squeezes every bit of enjoyment possible from the order cycle.

The Hat: Mailorder Delivers!

The Hat: Mailorder Delivers!

There is an inexpressible excitement in opening a long awaited package sent by complete strangers, far off and away.   I had sent in my USGA membership renewal, and according to the letter I would receive a hat: an orange 2015 USGA Chambers Bay Open cap.  I already had one, but if it blew away, I’d have back up.

I am certain that the USGA Board of Directors convened a special meeting, extensively reviewing my  application before granting my membership extension for another year. A no brainer for them, this was an important symbolic order of business, for which they would levy a $15.00 fee against my credit card.

From there, I visualized urgent instructions hammered out on the teletype, dispatched to the membership fulfillment department, ordering them to rush a member package to our home, sparing no cost.

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The long awaited, hoped for package arrives.

Like a glistening white, dimpled Titleist, teetering on the edge of the cup, I waited by the mailbox.    This week, the USGA kit arrived.

Inside the lumpy plastic package I found my new member card, and a bag tag, branded with my name, and a framable picture of Chambers Bay, site of the 2015 Open.   And more…there inside the package was a new hat–but it was gray.

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Surprise! A new hat!

Was there a mistake?

No!   This hat is for the 2016 Open in Oakmont.   I have no idea where that is, but according to the hat, there are squirrels, and acorns.  Perhaps there are groundhogs too.

But the USGA prize committee could not contain themselves by merely presenting me with a new lid.   They also sent along a USGA 40th Anniversary metal ball marker.

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Double surprise! A ball marker!

This little disk is used to mark the fictional place of my golf ball as it rests closest to the pin.   I have never had the pleasure of seeing that, but I hope to one day.

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But wait, there’s more. It’s magnetized.

Even better, however, the prize committee designated that the ball marker have a special place of its own: it attaches to a magnet on the visor of my new cap.   Wow!   Like many bad hooks off the neighboring tee box, I truly did not see this coming.

Of course, the cap is firmly held in place even on the windiest fairways as the magnet rests over the metal plate in my skull.

Just kidding.

Years ago we were introduced to the concept of lagniappe.  This is the art of giving a little extra.   It wins a customer for life.  Good marketers always work lagniappe, and the USGA has cultivated the technique.

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The course beckons; the marker is poised.

With luck, they may someday improve my game.

Thanks for reading!  Please share.  Oakmont is outside of Pittsburgh, PA.

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direct mail, Sports

Mail Order Law Course

Only a couple weeks ago I excitedly popped my member application into the mail to the U.S. Golfing Association.

Tell me you agree: there is nothing like the anticipation attached to mail order, waiting for that parcel to arrive.   In this case, the USGA won me over with membership to their organization, and sweetened the deal with their 2015 Chambers Bay Open hat.

The Hat: Mailorder Delivers!

The Hat: Mailorder Delivers!

But there was more. They also promised an official member card, and a golf bag tag, and… the USGA official book, Rules of Golf.

Today, my package arrived, and I had torn it open by the time I had walked up the driveway.

Up until now, I had viewed the game of golf as an enjoyable diversion: walking the fairway in search of a runaway ball, or flumped on a couch Sunday afternoon, taking vicarious enjoyment and frustration while millionaires bounced shots off spectators onto lush, hand-tweezed greens.

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“I did not know that!”

With the Rules of Golf in hand, the sport has new deeper meaning, with profound implications.

It’s much like my driving a car for all my life.   Only now to find that our state Rules of the Road, or Driver’s Handbook has 96 pages of rules, none of which I knew.

The USGA book is twice the size.

As a duly accredited and newly admitted USGA member, I opened the Rules of Golf.   About the size of the iPhone 6, it has 208 pages, written in 6-point type.  It fits in my back pocket, and just like the iPhone 6, it bends easily.

It turns out that there are only 34 rules.  Well, 34 subject areas perhaps.   Then the lawyers have their say.

But in a moment of merciful brevity, the governors have provided “A Quick Guide to the Rules of Golf”.  Kind of like a Cliff Notes.  It’s only 7 pages, which you might browse through as you pay your green fees.

In a like-minded spirit of expedition, I am not going to review all the rules with you here, but I would be remiss in not highlighting a few key canons of the game.

For instance, the attention to nuance as noted on page 9: “Understand The Words”.   You won’t find this type of consideration in the Drivers’ Handbook.

Grammar 101, with the bark left on.

Grammar 101, with the bark left on.

Or the oblique reference to emotion in the section on Unnecessary Damage, page 21.

"Now settle down, or we will stop the cart!"

“Now settle down, or we will stop the cart!”

Not to mention on page 37, the inside lore of match play, which identifies the condition for being a “dormie”.  We gather this is not a sleep mate, necessarily.USGA 534dormie

And the curious, repetitive references to remnants of manufactured ice which apparently is randomly found across the boundless green of the course.   One needs to study the forensics on this phenomenon.USGA 533 ice

And it pops up again…USGA 535ice casual water

Lastly, as we can expect, the USGA staffers make earnest attempts to define a circumstance for clearer understanding, as shown in the “Nearest Point of Relief”, page 30.

Not necessarily "fast acting" relief.

Not necessarily “fast acting” relief.

With that, I am off to the club, with my legal team in tow, and “for the good of the game”!IMG_1152

 

Thanks for reading!   In the midwest, the days are getting shorter, and the opportunity to enjoy a walk in temperate climate and sunshine is shrinking.  Kudos to USGA and their mission to bring golf to all who would enjoy the sport.  

“For The Good Of The Game” is copyright USGA.

 

 

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