Just because you can doesn't mean you should


As previously mentioned, I attended this year's DMA Annual Conference as a sponsor and found many ways that it was a wonderful experience as both a sponsor and an attendee. That said, there actually was one part of my DMA experience that gave me pause enough to want to share it and get your reactions. It's the mail avalanche.

The picture above shows all the direct mail pieces I received before the show (45) and after the show (8) that had some sort of call to action, usually "stop by our booth." It was clearly a waste for the 8 unfortunate companies whose mailers arrived at my mailbox after the show. But it's the 45 mailers that I received before the show that have me wondering, too.

Don't get me wrong - I have nothing against mailers. I used to own a direct mail agency after all, but it's the fact that 53 of these companies felt compelled to reach out to me with a message and so few of them were relevant to me. One of these was actually a book about radio advertising - in the picture above it's 4th from the left along the bottom with the cover letter under it.

I wish all show organizers let the attendees provide enough detail about their interests so they could facilitate (require?) that any pre-show touches be only to the people who self-identify as interested in your topic. Could they have attendees build a personalized agenda by selecting sessions to attend, and from that data they infer the topics of interest that can help the sponsors and exhibitors target more meaningfully? Whatever the case, there has to be a better way than the mail avalanche that's largely wasted.

Take that example to a broader level, and it illustrates how wasteful bad targeting can be. It's not only wasteful, but irritating to your customers, so it costs you dearly in lost revenue. When your business gets any more complicated than a mom-and-pop shop, that's when customer analytics can improve your marketing - better targeting, more relevance, less reliance on the avalanche or "spray and pray" to get the kind of sales volume you need. The answers are in your data.

On a separate but related note that I'm including because it's funny, one other example of "just because you can doesn't mean you should" came in the form of a roadside banner outside a rug store on the way to the beach in South Carolina. In this case, it involved a rhyme that may have seemed catchy to the store owner, but nothing about it made me want to stop and browse. My daughter took the picture below once she and her friends stopped laughing about it (they laughed a long time).


Please share your thoughts about the tradeshow mail avalanche, and the unfortunate rug-store rhyme. Share any other examples of "just because you can it doesn't mean you should." I'm sure the list is quite long...


About Author

John Balla

Principal Marketing Strategist

Hi, I'm + John Balla. I’m a digital content strategist here at SAS, and co-founder and former Editor of this blog. I like to find and share content and experiences that open doors, answer questions and maybe even challenge assumptions so better questions can be asked. Outside of work I stay busy with my wife and I keeping up with my 2 awesome teenagers, volunteering for the Boy Scouts, keeping my garden green, striving for green living, expressing myself with puns, and making my own café con leche every morning. I’ve lived and worked on 3 contents and can communicate fluently in Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian and passable English. Prior to SAS, my experience in marketing ranges from Fortune 100 companies to co-founding two start ups. I studied economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and got an MBA from Georgetown. Follow me on Twitter. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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