I got a press release today in the mail that was a great of example of how not to run an advertising campaign. The release in question was expensive, hard to understand and not very memorable (except insofar as it was unmemorable).
When I researched an article last year on how to develop a marketing campaign, one of the tips VARs had was to keep mailings simple. Gimmicky mailings are expensive to produce, and if the message isn’t readily evident, there’s a good chance it won’t get through.
So, let’s take this release as an example: I got a bottle of liquid soap along with a one-page press release. The postage was $4.59, and the soap — I looked it up online — costs $5.75. Even with bulk pricing, this vendor probably paid about $15 per unit including the box, copious bubble wrap, and labor.
The press release itself tried to tie the software to this bottle of soap, but the gimmick ended up obfuscating the message. “Why soap?” the release asked. “Simple, [software name] is to SOA what [soap name] is to soap.” Huh?
|Lost in the clutter|
The letter went on to explain that both products were all-in-one, pure, clean and fair-trade. For each adjective, the release started out talking about the soap and then tied it back to the software. Not only was the metaphor a bit of a stretch, but I came away knowing more about this soap than the software. As I type this, I can’t even remember the SOA vendor’s name, though I do remember who made the soap.
If it weren’t interesting as a case study in what not to do, I’d have thrown the letter out halfway into the first paragraph. I’d have kept the soap, and maybe even used it, but by tomorrow I wouldn’t be able to remember what the vendor did, let alone its name, let alone its compelling features.
If you do a mass-mailing campaign, keep it simple. One of the VARs I spoke to said that his company’s more successful mailing is a three-page package: a cover letter, an info sheet about the company, and an info sheet about its services.
Much more than that, and you’ll lose the lead’s interest before he even knows what you’re trying to pitch.