Can I Be Direct…? Part II

Grocery Shopping

Yesterday, I wrote about receiving a ‘direct mail’ piece crammed with many gawdy, hard-to-read, large display ads for local business… you can read it here.

One thing is for sure…, people like recognition. They like to see their name in print, hear their voice on the radio, or watch their company on the tube.

Show us a picture of a crowd we’re in, we tend to look for ourselves first. It’s human nature.

It’s why a restaurant would agree to pay thousands of dollars for a half page ad in this publication, stuck right between a tattoo removal business and service that sends out post cards for you…

Or why a local drycleaner is paying good money in a tough economy to be squeezed in between a spa in Milwaukee (the only listing for a Milwaukee business), and a nutritional supplement company with two extremely fit mid-sections just begging you to call.

You see, we’ll look for ourselves first… and we won’t notice the noise. We don’t see the forty different type fonts and sizes; we don’t recognize that the colors from the ads around us completely clash with ours. We don’t comprehend that for everyone else, this is just uncomfortable reading.

The Moped dealer with a full-page, full-color, glossy doesn’t notice that the next page over is a full-page, full-color glossy for a psychic and palm reader that claims a 99% accuracy rating.

And don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying she isn’t that good; I’ve never spoken with her.

But as small business owners and marketing professionals, we need to tightly define our message and our ideal customers, and then use media which reaches them while leaving the rest of the world alone.

The reverse is also true, we need to engage our best prospects in a place where they’re not being shouted at by other businesses in which they have no interest… a place where our message will not be drowned out by scores of marketers screaming for attention.

Direct mail can be a powerful tool, or a complete waste of money. We’ll look at some tips tomorrow.


It may or may not be interesting to you that I did speak with a psychic one time. Here was the conversation (true story), after I dialed an 800 number:

A pleasant voice answered the phone: “Thank you for calling Psychic [Something] Hotline, it is my pleasure to connect you.”

Surprised, I said what must have sounded quite close to “Uh… uhmm… I’m sorry, who is this?”

“Psychic [Something] Hotline, the worlds most accurate psychics.”

“Oh…, I am very sorry. My apologies, I think I must have dialed the wrong number.”

“No problem… what number were you dialing?”

Slight pause… “Well, you’re the psychic… you tell me!”

Another slight pause… then laughter… “That was really good…” she said, “…you’re cute.”

“Wow…” I said, “you can see that… you must be psychic…!”

More laughter… nice conversation, and it didn’t cost a dime.



Commit to a sound marketing plan, and don’t jump in response to incoming offers to advertise on the spur of the moment.

When media reps call you out of the blue, remember that they are trying to reach their own production goals, not yours.

Direct mail done wrong is little more than non-electronic spam… and generates the same feelings on the part of the recipient.


I look forward to hearing from you.


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