Count Von Count’s Guide To Marketing

In an undisclosed location, a wrinkly old tuxedo clad man in his underground bunker turns away from his technologically impossible command center and with a twinkle in his eye cackles to the heavens, “MORE MAIL! WE MUST SEND THEM MORE MAIL! BWAHAHAHAHA!”

That is probably the likely Hollywood perception most people have about how advertising mail gets to their door. The reality is much different. Most marketers aren’t interested in spending money to reach you if there isn’t any potential opportunity for you to buy. Even with a decline of twenty percent in mail volumes over the last five years, direct mail is still an effective method of reaching customers, and during the holiday season, most people do expect to see a spike in the amount of direct mail they receive.

However, sometimes there’s a real head scratcher of a campaign.

Since the first day of November, someone who hasn’t lived in our house for at least a decade, my wife, and I have all received the following mail from a single retail organization:

One Fall Sales Catalogue
Three $10 off In-Store Offers
Three Oversized Postcards
Two Black Friday Sneak Peek Offers

For those fans of Count Von Count it’s, “One! Two! Nine! Nine pieces of mail in fourteen days!” That’s a LOT of “pennies” if you get my meaning.

I suspect that the individual who doesn’t live with us (unless we have a secret room that I don’t know about which would be super cool!), is either a store card holder or former good customer based on the offers she has been receiving, while my wife and I are coming from a consumer list rental.

If you are curious as to why we’d be getting all these pieces, it’s probably not coming from an underground lair, but rather a company not thinking through the data aspects of their direct mail process. In other words, having good data is as important to the return on investment of a marketing campaign as a good offer and festive creative design.

One way to save money is to make sure you aren’t sending multiple copies of the same offer to one house through a process called duplicate elimination. When removing duplicates from a data file or set of files you really have three options. You can eliminate duplicates per person (first name, last name and address), by household, (last name and address) or simply by address. As you might guess, those different levels of matching will provide different results. In this instance, if our mysterious retail organization is even doing duplicate elimination between files, they are likely using per person or household matching. Since my wife and I have different last names and our secretive stranger has a different surname too, those two match levels would not identify us as duplicate records ensuring that we get each piece of mail multiple times.

Any organization doing direct mail needs to consider if they really want to send multiple mail pieces with the same offer to the same address. Sometimes I’m sure it makes sense, but in this instance it’s just annoying. It’s also expensive. Even at an average of fifty cents a piece for printing and postage, the retailer spent seven dollars to send us these nine pieces when they should have sent us only three. If they made the same mistake with only 20,000 households nationally, that’s $110,000 spent to inundate us with extra mail. That’s enough to make any bean counter looking at the bottom line cringe. An organization can spend all the time in the world creating the perfect offer but if they don’t do their due diligence managing their data, they are wasting money and decreasing their return on investment.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get a couple of names at my address on some beer mailing lists.


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