Marketing Fail: A Post-Mortem

Two direct mail campaigns, each comprised of several pieces, scheduled to arrive at regular intervals to a targeted audience. One gets stopped before it’s complete, written off as a failure. The other, with fewer pieces deployed, is such a success that it gets repeated to a new list.

So what happened? Why did one work while the other didn’t?

Let’s start with the one that succeeded. The “A” campaign, while it included just four sequential pieces, was targeted to a very precise audience consisting of only prospects who needed the service being offered.

Each piece clearly demonstrated the consequences of inaction — agitating the pain points. Each one reminded the prospect of the worst case scenario and its costs.

Then — and here’s the critical part — each one showed a way out. Not a remedy, but prevention. Proven protection from all those dire outcomes.

But wait…there’s more. If one of those prospects went to the website as directed, they could download a guide they really needed, just by providing a name and email address. They were sent followup emails reminding them of the urgency of their situation and the proximity of their solution.

The campaign paid for itself several times over. The one that didn’t work? That’s a different story. 

The list was not as specific as the “A” campaign’s list. The pain those prospects may have experienced or risked was not as urgent. It was harder to see the tangible cost benefit of using the services offered.

Other elements were lacking, too. The website was almost generic, and offered no meaningful way to capture prospects’ information. So followup was next to impossible.

The services offered were more general, too. And stopping the campaign before all of the messages were sent probably stopped the momentum just as it might have gained critical mass.
So a few takeaways.

First, do you understand your prospects’ problem? Is it painful — or potentially so? Remind them of it. Agitate those pain points.

Next, can you relieve that pain? Can you do it in a way no one else can — or no one else talks about? Then say so.
Third, focus as narrowly as possible on the people with the most to lose and the most to gain.

Finally, make sure your other marketing tools are all focused on keeping prospects moving through that sales funnel and into your waiting arms.

Direct mail is a powerful marketing tool. But like all tools, it only works if it’s used correctly.