Should PetSmart's Fail go to the Dead Letter Office?

When I received this self-mailer from PetSmart on September 21, I planned to post it as a quick Fail for Timing.  The coupon redemption period from a consumer standpoint is only 12 days.  The address panel includes a request for in-home delivery 8/30-9/1, which suggests that the Fail might belong to the USPS for slow delivery.  The holiday mailing season has yet to start, so why would mail arrive this slowly?

Addressed to Jazz c/o Marc Davis

Then I noticed that it was addressed not to me, but to Jazz, my dead dog.  Jazz was truly man's best friend.  He thought that every stranger was a friend he hadn't met.  I met more than a few nice people with him along.  Jazz barked only at mylar balloons and enjoyed playing with squeaky toys.  He passed away about 18 months ago at a fair age of 14.
Great festive creative
When I received a similar mailer about a year ago, I called PetPerks to inform them that my dog died.  The customer service person was sympathetic when he said he would remove Jazz from their files.  And yet, I received another birthday card 12 months later.

I adopted a different dog several months ago through a PetSmart adoption program.  Buddy is a perky, friendly dog and enjoys coming to the office with me.  I updated my PetPerks file in July so they know about Buddy, including his birth date and how I discovered him at a PetSmart.  We'll see if I get a birthday card in May for my living dog to go along with this one for my dead dog.

In addition to ensuring that records are properly updated, perhaps PetSmart should consider setting an age when the pet should not receive direct communications, or perhaps send an occasional e-mail to cusotmers requesting that information about their pets be updated on their PetPerks profile.

  1. Be sure your customer list is up to date.  
  2. Consider when it is time to purge old data and focus on current data.


Don't trade with this Fail

A lack of personalization suggests a lack of interest in your customer.  In a face-to-face sales environment, a good salesperson knows the customer's name before trying to sell a product.  The same premise applies to direct marketing.  Effective direct mail almost always starts with "Dear Marc Davis." or at least "Dear" followed by the first name of the customer.

In snail mail, the right personalization can mean the difference between effective mail and junk mail.  With e-mail, the same premise applies except that the common term is spam.

This e-mail from Online Trading Academy easily merits a Creative Fail for bad personalization.  Leading an e-mail with "Dear [INSERT FIRST NAME]" is worse than no personalization at all.  Would you trust these people with your investment dollars if they cannot figure out how to call you by name?


Sudhoff Properties: A real estate agent should know the address

This real estate agent from Sudhoff Properties sent an e-mail with a header of “Address Change”.  However, there is no message text – not even an explanation of what changed.  Was it the e-mail address or new address?  Would you trust this person to sell your home?  Not with a Fail for Creative.

Lesson: When sending an e-mail to your customers, be sure to have not only a relevant header but also a relevant message.


Late Furniture

This self-mailer from Bassett Furniture arrived  Tuesday, September 7.  Easy Fail for Timing.  The sale ended the day prior to the mail's arrival.

The mailer includes a request for arrival between 8/30 & 9/1, so either the mail was sent late or the USPS was delivering slowly. 

On the other hand, it was targeted well, as it was sent to a prior customer.


Don't bet on this Fail

My neighbor received a self-mailer from Resorts.  It appears they are giving away a laptop complete with a Windows 7 “Operation” System.  Fail for Creative.

Lesson: Using spell-check software is not enough.  Proofread your documents for grammar, jargon, and context.