←back to Blog

My Direct Mail Rant

Warning — this post is a bit of a rant!

First of all, I like getting junk mail. As any good marketer will tell you, I will steal an idea from anywhere. But if you are a window company in the Philadelphia area and advertised in this month’s Money Mailer, you got screwed with your pants on. And by the way, I use the term “junk mail” for a reason.

Here’s why

I have a client who calls me the General Contractor of marketing. I guess they call me that because I work with many companies to help market the contractors I work with. I work with search engine marketing companies, I work with direct-mail houses, I work with newspapers and radio stations and TV and Yellow Pages people all the time. And nothing pisses me off more than when I see a company being taken advantage of by their marketers.

So today I go to my mailbox and I find this month’s Money Mailer coupon drop. Normally I look forward to getting the Money Mailer because I get coupons for the local pizza place my family goes to, and like I said, I’m happy to steal an idea from anywhere I can. So I review all the ads with a fine tooth comb.

In the pack, there were:

33 ads overall
14 ads were national accounts – ads for ADT, Dish Network and DirecTV
19 ads were local – Local businesses just like yours

Here’s the rub, of the 19 local ads, 8 were for window installation companies! Understand, they weren’t home-improvement companies that did windows along with other home services, these are strictly window installers, and there were 8 in the pack! Now, if I were representing one of the window installers I would have been furious! I know business is tough out there, but this was an obvious money grab by the local Money Mailer. And all they did was force the window guys into a bidding war with homeowners who will no doubt call many of them for quotes. It truly boggles my mind why they would allow almost 50% of their drop to be targeting such a specific segment in the home-improvement category. This truly was junk mail for these contractors!

What’s the solution?

Now, we don’t just bitch here at Darren’s house of useless knowledge, I have a suggestion for anyone out there faced with the same challenge. You have to go out of your way to find advertising that limits the number of ‘like’ companies they will allow. In other words, find advertising outlets that want to partner with you and see you succeed, not just make money for them.

This means every time you sit down with an advertiser you need to be asking them for some type of exclusivity. Many of them will tell you to go to hell in the nicest way possible, but you have to ask. Depending on your industry and your location, it might be worth it to you to buy the exclusivity. In other words, find out how much it would cost to not include your competitors. And if they tell you there’s no way to control the number of companies that you compete with, then ask for a steep discount.

And to Money Mailer – I like you guys and I have used you a lot in the past, but I have to call you out on this one because the only people who made money on this deal was you! If you think I am wrong, please let me know. But as a guy who does about $4 million a year in advertising, I don’t think I am.