I recently received an email from Joy Gendusa, CEO of Postcardmania.com, letting me know how to get a better response from postcard mailings. Postcardmania is an excellent company that began by providing direct mail postcards to businesses so they could attract new customers and to keep in touch with their existing customers. Recognizing that there’s more to marketing than just postcards, they’ve expanded their services to include website design, email marketing, and social media solutions.
Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Joy or Postcardmania, and receive no remuneration or compensation for telling you about them.
Because my company and many of our consultants depend on direct mail for marketing to our prospects and for providing support to our clients, I was interested in what Joy’s email had to say. So I clicked on the link that would take me to the message she wanted me to read.
When I clicked on that link it took me to another link which brought me back to the first link that I clicked on, and I never was able to see the message that Joy wanted me to see. So I took the time out of my schedule to make screen captures of what I was seeing, added some comments about what I was experiencing, and then sent it to her so she could be aware that if others were experiencing the same problems I was, they would not be seeing the message that she thought was important enough to send to her clients and prospects, and she could be losing sales and credibility.
I consider Joy to be an excellent marketer and I refer her website and her work to our consultants on a frequent basis, but I was not prepared for the response I got back from her. In fact, it surprised me that someone who is so expert at what she does would respond the way she did.
I debated for six weeks whether or not to write an article about this because I respect Joy and the services and benefits she and her excellent company provide for her clients. And I certainly don’t mean any harm or ill will towards Joy or Postcardmania. But in thinking about it, the lessons that can be learned from this experience are too valuable to pass up.
Keeping that in mind, I will show you what I wrote to her and her response back to me. Then I’ll ask you how you would feel if you were me, having just alerted her to a situation that could have frustrated her clients and potential clients and cost her some business. Please understand that I give Joy and her company the highest respect for quality work, and I am using this example purely to demonstrate what can happen if you don’t pay close attention to the details of your communications.
My sincere request to you is that you please do not judge Joy or Postcardmania by what you are about to read; she really is a good person and they are a good company. Instead, study it, learn from it, and make sure what you send makes sense, any links you provide take you where they are supposed to, and recognize the people who give you honest feedback with the intent of helping you.
Here is the e-mail that I wrote to Joy:
I follow you and your marketing ideas pretty closely, and have been pretty impressed with what you do. However, this one really makes me wonder where one of us (you or me) have gone wrong. Here’s part of an email message I got from you. Being interested in the “marketing campaign [you] recently did for [yourselves]”, I clicked on link #1
It took me to: http://www.postcardmania.com/products-services/landing-pages/?contactID=25305159&gwkey=TIGJR2GS7X where I got an invitation to call an 866 number and watch a video about a real estate company… nothing about YOUR campaign.
So, I clicked on link #2, and got here: http://www.postcardmania.com/marketing_articles/article/articleID/154?contactID=25305159&gwkey=TIGJR2GS7X
So I find myself interested in your free report, and click on the link you provide. Sure enough, it does take me to the page you reference in the link (…/getmore), and I get back to the same page as before… an 866 number and real estate video… no “free report.”
Eventually, with a little searching (and a lot of frustration), I get to this page… http://www.postcardmania.com/marketing_articles/article/articleID/154?contactID=25305159&gwkey=TIGJR2GS7X
I get this message from you…
Notice the link… once again (…/getmore). Where is the “simple call to action” and the “free report” that you promised? So I keep reading, and farther down the same page, I get this promise…
Thinking that I’ve finally hit the info form to get the free report and see the “Thanks Page” that you promised, the link takes me right back to the (…/getmore) page.
Joy, I don’t normally take the time to make this kind of response to poorly designed marketing pieces, but I refer our more than 1,250 consultants to your site on a regular basis to order your products and to see what you are doing in your own marketing. But this sequence is so poorly thought out that it’s an embarrassment for me to send it to my consultants.
I know you can do better… and as the owner of your company, I thought you’d like to know what your clients and customers are seeing. Before (and this is SO basic) you make links in an email or a web page live, you gotta test them yourself to make sure they work.
Don’t let this blunder go to waste… use this experience as an “Oops” message to your list. Let them know what went wrong, show them that you’re human and make mistakes, and then give them the correct links to get your report and Thank You page, and some kind of additional bonuses as an “I’m sorry for your inconvenience”. You just may find that you’ll get an increased number of downloads because of it.
Here’s Joy’s response that came four days later:
Subject: Oops we goofed…
Oops we goofed…
I see you clicked on the article in our latest newsletter “Online vs. Direct Mail: Do They Work Together?” It was brought to our attention that the landing page that it refers to has since changed, and the report we mentioned is no longer on it.
How embarrassing! If you are still interested in reading that report – Here it is! Click here to download.
Thanks to the person who pointed this out to us! Our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Founder and CEO
Okay, what did you think? Was I right to point out an oversight that could cost her sales and income or put her credibility at risk with her clients or potential clients who may have become frustrated because they couldn’t find what they were looking for? I didn’t just point out the problem, I offered a solution… a follow-up “oops” email with a “bonus gift” for causing their frustration.
Teaching Point: When you see a business that runs an ad or promotion that contains a mistake or oversight, or you see something that could be improved to get them a better response, what do you do? Do you take the time to let them know about it and offer a suggestion that will help them correct it and maybe even boost the response they would otherwise get? Sometimes giving away (for free and with no strings attached) what you know (and normally charge for) that can help someone and can come back to you in unexpected ways. Quite often, consultants let me know how this exact principle has worked for them and a paying client has resulted. In my case with Joy, I had no hidden agenda and did not expect for anything to come of it. It was just my way – as one CEO to another – to offer some help.
How about Joy’s response? What did you think? Good? Okay? Poor? Here’s how it hit me…
Her email was sent to everyone… no thanks to me for pointing out the problem or offering a solution… just everyone on her list. In fact, in the first paragraph, Joy wrote, “It was brought to our attention…” Really? WHO brought it to your attention, Joy? Then in the last paragraph, she states, “Thanks to the person who pointed this out to us!” Yeah, “the PERSON”.
Question for Joy: Just who is that “person”, Joy? You know, the “person” who saved your tail? The “person” who pointed out that if he (or she) wasn’t able to get access to the report that you put together to benefit them (and to create sales for you), that everyone else who got the same email with the faulty links couldn’t access it either? Please understand… I’m not looking for any credit or for her to tell everyone on her list about me, but it wouldn’t have hurt to send me a personal note (takes about 2 minutes) to thank me. But to be referred to as “the person”… kinda, sorta doesn’t make me feel too good.
Teaching Point: What difference can it possibly make if you offend or make just one person out of thousands you have on your list feel bad or unappreciated? Not much, I guess. Unless that person tells the world about their experience with you and how you made them feel. What if out of the thousands that can read of the experience (remember, the Internet connects with many more than are on your personal list) just one decides not to do business with you… not just in a one-time sale, but in accumulated lifetime value? How much can that cost? Isn’t it worth a couple of minutes of your time to acknowledge someone who goes out of their way to bring a potential income loss to your attention? Again, I’m not offended with what Joy did or didn’t do to or for me personally… I’m just pointing out how others may feel if you don’t properly acknowledge and thank them for their help.
Look at the second paragraph of Joy’s email… “If you are still interested in reading that report…” What? What did she mean by, “if you are still interested…” Of course, they should be interested. After all, she wrote the report to provide value for her clients and prospects, shouldn’t they be interested? If not, why write the report in the first place? Wouldn’t it have been better to say something along the lines of, “I’m so excited to get this report to you because I know you’re going to get some great information that can be of tremendous value to your business. If you’ll look it over and let me know what you think, I’ll see that you get [bonus report, CD, PDF download, etc.].”
Teaching Point: In my email to Joy, I suggested that she offer “…some kind of additional bonuses as an ‘I’m sorry for your inconvenience’ gift. It’s always a good thing to acknowledge your goof-up, but if you make some kind of “peace-offering” in addition, it can go a long way in reducing the pain or disappointment that someone might have experienced. Another way to turn a mistake into a positive is (as I mentioned in the above paragraph), offer a gift or bonus to those who respond about the value they’ve gotten from your report. It not only forces them to read it, but to respond, creating a dialogue or conversation between them and you, rather than a one-way monologue of you speaking to them.
So What About You? How Does This Apply?
I hope as you read this article you didn’t come away with the idea that I was bashing Joy; that was not my intention at all. I merely wanted to point out some mistakes or oversights that she made with the links in her initial email, how I offered her some simple and viable solutions, and how (in my opinion) she botched it.
So what, you say? Who am I and what gives me the right to be concerned? The simple answer is, “I am a customer, or perhaps a potential customer. I am a person who can choose to give my money to Joy and her company or to someone else. I’ll tell you who else I am; I am a person with a voice and can spread good or ill about those whom I either do give, or can give my money and business to, and I can influence others to do likewise. Show me respect and concern for any frustrations or inconvenience you have (or may have) caused me, and all will be forgiven. Treat me as “the person” and I’ll not only take my business elsewhere, but I’ll influence others to do the same.”
As you’re consulting with your clients, or are looking for clients to work with, pay close attention to what they are doing. How are they communicating their message to their market? What are they doing exceptionally well that you can compliment them on? What things are they missing that might be improved? What can you do to give them – without cost – that can help them be better at what they do. Don’t be afraid to give something (in fact, your very best stuff) for free.
When Debbie Fields started Mrs. Fields Cookies, she she stood outside her store and gave out samples of her cookies. Some people passed by without taking any. Others took a sample, thanked her and walked on. And some ate the sample and went into the store to buy a bag of cookies. “Sampling” or giving away some of what you do for free is a great way to catch the attention of your prospects and create a desire in them to want to know more. Think about how you can use that principle in your own business… it’s very powerful.
As always, I’m very interested in your comments. Please let me know your thoughts.
Martin Howey, CEO
TopLine Business Solutions
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