If you make direct mail mistakes it could leave your customers out of pocket

Last week we received a note from Royal Mail in our post. Someone had sent us a letter and not paid the correct postage… could we please go to the sorting office to collect, or call to re-arrange delivery. Thinking it was probably a client sending an order form or a cheque I figured we should collect it asap.

direct mail mistake

I went to the depot to collect, and paid £1.32 for the privilege (£0.32 postage + £1 handling fee).

Upon opening the letter I was dumbstruck to find that it was from a supplier,. Worse, it was actually a letter asking us to refer new customers! An unsolicited piece of direct mail!

Direct mail mistakes cost this supplier our new business

Now, I’m all for asking for referrals – especially after you’ve done a good job and delivered fantastic service. But we’ve already stopped dealing with this company because of a catalogue of poor service decisions from them – and now they’ve written to ask us to refer new business to them and couldn’t even get that right! I shouldn’t imagine we were the only people who received a similar letter that day… just imagine – if they sent that letter to 5,000 businesses they’ll have cost their customers more than £6,500.

I wonder how much they think they saved by trying to handle this campaign by themselves? I wonder how much they would now pay to be able to turn back the clocks and get it done properly? What an incredible false economy… and a final nail in the coffin for our relationship with them.

For goodness sake – don’t make the same direct mail mistakes. This customer used pre-printed envelopes which omitted some crucial information. Get yours checked before sending. Check. And then check again. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, find someone who does. Nobody likes to find out from a customer that they got it wrong.

Make the most of your mailings!

The company in question sent a referral form – on its own – in an envelope. Why not tell me something interesting? Something relevant to our previous history with them? In light of our particular situation I actually think it was wholly inappropriate to ask for referrals at all – wouldn’t it have been better to ask what happened to our relationship? Ask what they could have done better? Ask how they could improve future service? What could they do to prove their capabilities to us? In the normal course of events I would say that if you’re paying for the postage, you may as well make the most of it. Tell your customers about this month’s special offer and why it would be good for them. Tell them about new product lines which replace or improve upon something they’ve purchased from you in the past. Use it as an opportunity to harvest feedback and testimonials. What a missed opportunity…

The only thing that was right about this direct mailing was that it included a reply paid slip. In all other respects it was an abject failure – a very poor example of effective marketing.

Shame on them.

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