A Penthouse For Phil?

[i]BLOG VIEW:[/i][/u] I don't get creeped out that easily, but last week, something arrived in my mailbox that gave me cause to shudder.[/b] What happened? Well, it seems that the developer of a luxury high-rise complex in New York targeted me with a piece of direct mail – an oversized, full-color postcard – alerting me to a ‘personal webpage’ where I could learn about their property. How personal was this ‘personal webpage’? It was so personal that it actually had [i]my[/i] name in the site's URL. Apparently, the developer was so confident that I would want a Jeffersons-worthy deluxe apartment in the sky that it set up a URL just for me. So, what's wrong with this marketing approach? In some ways, nothing. In fact, it was fairly innovative at a certain level – after all, I'm talking about it! But in other ways, it was impractical and expensive. Let's consider where this strategy succeeded and where it flopped. For starters, contacting me via the U.S. Postal Service exposed one of the major problems of direct-mail marketing – the too-broad target outreach approach that is known in culinary circles as throwing spaghetti at the wall. I have no idea which mailing list the developer acquired for this endeavor – the direct-mail piece was addressed to my full moniker, complete with my middle name, which I very rare use in my daily activities – and I cannot imagine how this could have possibly made me a candidate for a super-expensive New York apartment. In all fairness, the oversized postcard approach was a wonderful idea. Today, my mailbox is usually home to nothing but bills, advertising fliers and magazines. No one sends me postcards, except for my dentist with a reminder of an upcoming appointment. Needless to say, the postcard stood out from the day's mail. Also key to the campaign was the size of this postcard: It was considerably larger than the typical tourist souvenir mailer. This one measured 6.25 inches by 9.25 inches and it was printed on a glossy paper stock. As for its content, it consisted of several artistically conceived photographs of the developer's property. Needless to say, that truly caught my attention. But then there was that URL, which was printed on the bottom of the postcard in a bold font. My eyes went straight to that, and my enthusiasm for the direct-mail piece suddenly froze. I've never seen this approach before, and I cannot say that I was enthused that the developer – or the marketing agency behind this campaign – went through the bother of setting up a specialized URL (using my name [i]without[/i] my permission) in the hope that I would go online and see what was there. However, I have to concede that the first thing that I did after coming home was turn on the computer and check out that URL. But what I found was fairly disappointing: an inquiry page where my name and address were pre-entered in a form that would be submitted if I desired more information on this opportunity. This made absolutely no sense, because the postcard also had a toll-free number where I could have called to request the information. In the end, the postcard mailer was a waste. Even if I was in the market for that kind of a luxury property, I wouldn't have been attracted by unsolicited direct mail. I recognize that it is tough to move excess inventory and that people will try a variety of ideas to originate sales. But, in this case, being too clever had the exact opposite effect. – Phil Hall, editor, [b][i]Secondary Marketing Executive[/i][/b] [i] (Please address all comments regarding this opinion column to hallp@sme-online.co


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