3/31/2020

Coronavirus Guidelines for America: Late and Hard to Read

I received a postcard with “PRESIDENT TRUMP’S CORONAVIRUS GUIDELINES FOR AMERICA.” It was dated March 16 and arrived in my New York City mailbox on March 28.

COVID-19
Coronavirus Guidelines
Mailed Standard Rate
Let’s look at this postcard from a direct mail marketing perspective. The primary objective of the postcard is to motivate people to take action to prevent getting the virus that causes COVID-19, while the secondary objective is to motivate readers to visit coronavirus.gov for more information. It merits a Fail for Creative for a few reasons.
  • White text on a black background is neither easy to print nor read, especially in italics at 9-point font size. 

COVID-10
If you can read the good hygiene tips, you don't need glasses.

  • The Call to Action to visit coronavirus.gov is visually lost.
    • On the address side, below a couple graphical icons, the website is suggested as a place to go for more information
    • On the copy side, it sits in the corner without a description of the site or a reason to visit it. It is in a good location relative to the layout of the postcard—and bold compared to most of the other content; however, the line starting “EVEN IF YOU ARE YOUNG,” with a blue background, is what draws a reader.

Perhaps the small postcard is trying to accomplish too much in too little space.

Lessons:
  1. If your copy is small, make sure you have proper color contrast.
  2. Make your call to action prominent.


[Edit: Removed commontary about postal rate used, as this was mailed EDDM.]

3/01/2020

American Red Cross: No longer blind


A little over two months ago, I wrote about receiving a solicitation from the Red Cross in a blindenvelope right in the middle of the traditional giving season. Last week, I received a similar solicitation but with a corporate envelope.

Where the envelope in December had no hint of branding, this envelope is unmistakably from the American Red Cross. The teaser message reminds me that my donation helps the Red Cross respond to more than 60,000 disasters a year.

American Red Cross
Red Cross Solicitation:
Fully Branded Outer Envelope
The letter inside is exactly the same as the December letter. The only update is the mailing date.

Red Cross Charity Solicitation Letter
Donation Solicitation Letter front
multichannel engagement
Donation Solicitation Letter back
Request for email address circled

As a direct marketing professional, my gut tells me that the blind envelope was part of an A/B Test and this is the Control, but that is just a hunch. Perhaps the plan was for the holiday solicitation to be blind to differentiate it from the multitude of charity mailers that typically arrive in December. The mailbox is not as busy in February, the thinking would go, so now is time to show that logo again.

I wonder if it is also time for increased multichannel engagement. This is a direct mail letter requesting a mailed-back, completed response form. There is also an online donation option; however, the mention of that is in small type.

No one wants to mess with a successful Control package (if this is it); however, it may be time to consider that the internet is useful for many things, including donor engagement. Buried on the back of the form  below the input field for credit card information  is a request for email address. Instead, why not, on the front of the form, ask all donors for their email address to share stories of the Red Cross coming to the aid of disaster survivors? Rather than treating this solicitation as solo mail in a vacuum, include a link to the American Red Cross YouTube channel or the local Red Cross as a means of encouraging engagement?

Business Reply Envelope

Perhaps that could be their next A/B Test.



Lessons:

1.      Test your most successful direct mail packages. Let new presumptions challenge your assumptions.
2.      We live in an omnichannel world. Don’t use direct mail in a vacuum – integrate it with your other engagement channels.