Waste Not, Want More.

Got a form letter from my cellular carrier. It’s one of the Big Ones, sent from the “Senior Vice President” no less, of “Customer Experience.” Useless does not begin to describe this thing.

It’s textbook, How NOT to Design a Direct Mail piece:


  • It’s all copy, no images. Just a little bold, bullets, line breaks.
  • It’s personalized (ok, one point), but then about him and why he’s writing to me.
  • Next up it’s lots of babbling b.s. about them. Techs and specs, with SIX footnotes (?!) as if anyone would read that far.
  • It mentions two new “value” offerings, but no breakdown as to how they would Help. ME.
  • Mr. SVP goes on being “proud,”  bragging about a popular vanity (read: meaningless) service award.
  • It ends. With him being glad I chose them. And an epic facepalm: No CTA. Seriously. Nothing.

The ONLY reason I even got past opening and scanning the damn thing was professional curiosity. A real person, shredder city.

How many thousands of dollars in paper, printing, postage were spent mailing millions of these? What marketing communications manager thought this a good investment – a generic, no-offer form letter?!

Wherefore art thou, oh elusive ROI?

I’ve long since held that logos and websites and good writing, smart PR and integrated social media are all parts of an essential Communications program. Strategic, comprehensive Communications being key to any business success. And I still do.

I also know that in a Time vs. Money, DIY at your own risk world, the ROI sometimes just isn’t there for small biz. If no one’s pipes break or people don’t have the money to redo their bathroom, that local plumbers phone won’t ring no matter how lovely the logo, how shiny his Facebook page, nor beautifully written the website copy.

As I recently commented in a smart discussion on piffle, publicity and traditional PR – even the big guys get this wrong. Next week, the global brands will roll out their Big Game Ads that by all accounts, do not impact sales nor improve brand reputation. But spend gazillions they will.

Do we just go through the motions? Spin wheels for the sake of looking like we’re doing something?

Dear Mr. SVP: Stop TELLING me you’ve done better, SHOW me with a better signal inside, by dropping fewer calls. Don’t waste my monthly fees marketing right back at me – give me a loyalty discount. Invest in your customers, in your brand – not banal business blather

Tell me: How do we guard against the waste, make sure we get the true business returns we seek? My advice to all businesses, large and small: Waste Less, Do More. 

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2 thoughts on “Waste Not, Want More.

  1. Hi Davina,

    I was nodding my head all the way through reading this because I hate all this darn mail I get and for what. Just like what you’re sharing here I mean really! Don’t you think they could put their money to much better use then to brag about all their accomplishments? We’re already customers people.. Now if I have a big complaint with you I would much prefer a phone call so just remember that when the time comes because it will.

    I agree about all the fliers and stuff we get in the mail. I’ll be honest with you, it all goes in the recycle bin and I never even open it. I’ve tried removing myself from so much junk it’s not even funny. I can’t believe the money they waste on that stuff and they wonder why we are of the mindset that mail will be a thing of the past soon. Sad…

    Adrienne recently posted..Why Connecting With Influencers In Your Niche Is Critical

    1. I understand the value of branding, have respect for the need for awareness and buzz, but there’s a big part of me Adrienne that doesn’t get the mass of mass media, mass marketing. I’m a Coke Zero drinker, I am; they got me, so any money spent getting my eyeballs is wasted. Same for many brands. For DM, the lack of a clear CTA, of a hook that benefits ME is unforgivable. Like many a consumer, I want the deal I want, when I want it; the service and support when I need it; otherwise, don’t waste my time. FWIW.

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