July 28, 2008

Toss And Hope

I was backing out of the driveway recently and drove over something. I noticed it was a large collection of rolled up pamphlets, with an elastic band around them, in a plastic bag. Someone had lobbed a bunch of direct mail barely on to my driveway from a moving vehicle.

There are graphic design shops all over the world churning out millions of pages of this stuff daily. They make flyers offering “deals” on every imaginable product – all to be rolled up and thrown out of a car on to driveways, mail slots, front porches, or yards for as far as they eye can see.

Jeff Parks and I were talking the other day during another excellent chat about social networking, corporate culture and the new reality. He often uses the phrase from Dilbertthe fire hose aimed at the tea cup. Trillions of bits of information are being fired at us every single minute of every single day. How do you keep up? How do you cut through? How do you make a difference? What is the secret?

If you are in product development, you spend a tremendous amount of energy crafting and planning and building something that will resonate with customers, viewers, users, listeners, or readers.

Direct mail or external marketing experts will tell you about the two second rule. You have about that much time to catch someone’s attention. The mass marketing model is simple – hit as many people as possible and hope that 3-5% will react to your message.

Tossing flyers from a moving vehicle on to people’s property is a sign of giving up. What are the chances your potential customers will; open the bag, undo the elastic band, read through your message, get in their car, and buy those pork chops on sale this week? That’s a lot of assumptions.

Drenching everyone with the fire hose of mass media doesn’t guarantee anyone will notice. We spend all day being hosed.

km

 
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