How to learn from Junk mail

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I go to my post office box once a week. I insert my key and kaplow out comes a pile of junk mail. Sometimes I think I am just paying for my post office box just so companies can send me junk, lol. Just a few years ago I would’ve been ticked off to be getting so much junk mail but now I embrace junk mail. I love junk mail.

I get junk mail from banks, auto dealers, insurance companies, fast food chains, super markets, travel, get rich quick schemes and the list goes on and on.

Fortune 500 companies spend millions hiring the top advertising agencies of the world to create and come up with the best advertising. These advertising agencies take into account every little detail and every word that’s said.

I know we don’t  have millions of dollars to spend on the best advertising money can buy so why don’t we learn from these advertisers and put together the best of best for FREE.  Let’s learn from our competition and such.

The next time you pull out a pile of junk mail and instead of just tossing it into the trash stop and look it over for a second.  Separate the mail that catches your attention from the mail that is flat out junk mail and uninteresting. Take the mail that seems interesting and look for the following:

THE ENVELOPE

  • The size . Was it odd shaped? A postcard maybe? Was it the size of a small invitation envelope or a business sized envelope?
  • The color. Was it white or bright yellow or maybe manilla? Did it have a plastic window or was it a solid envelope?
  • The fonts. Was it computer generated or was it hand written? I open hand written letters first. Unless it’s a check from escrow. I always open that first, lol. You should see what kind of fonts catch your eye. Some business’ use the same fonts that the IRS uses to make you think it’s a government letter to get you to pay attention and open it.
  • The stamp used. Was it one of those presorted stamps? A regular postage stamp? A computer generated stamp? What was it that caught your eye? I know when I see a letter with those bulk pre-sorted stamps on it I know it is instant junk and I have no interest for it.
  • The return address. Was there a return address? Did they place the company name and full address or just leave it blank?

After quickly studying the outside of an advertisement I pay attention to these things on the inside:

THE ADVERTISEMENT

  • Fonts. Look for what grabs your attention, if that. How was it placed? Were the fonts huge or small?
  • Great lines and phrases. Pay attention to words and phrases that motivate you to purchase or sign up for what they are selling. Words and phrases that get you thinking.
  • Photos and Art. Did that artwork or photo touch you? Did it inspire you? Was it something you would remember later? Don’t forget these advertising agencies have money to dump into research. They use psychology and the latest selling techniques.
  • Type of advertisement. Was it a flyer inside? A brochure? Coupons? A letter?
  • Length. Was it page upon page or was it a single sheet?
  • Colors. What kind of colors did they use? Try and see what it is you like about the colors and why? Do they inspire something? Red, white and blue for patriotism or green for the earth conscious. Colors matter more than you think. Orange and black start to give you that warm fuzzy it’s Thanksgiving and Halloween type of feel.
  • What stood out? Did they do anything that stood out to you and made you remember them? I got an advertisement one time that had a quarter taped inside. Sometimes I get a pen with my company name on it. What did they do that was memorable?

Doing these things every time you get junk mail will help you improve your own marketing plans and give you that extra edge against your competition. Place what works into your advertising tool box along with BiggerPockets.com and spank the competition silly.

Good luck in all you do America!

Photo Credit: hawken.dadako

About Author

Winston Westbrook is broker & owner of Westbrook National Real Estate Company servicing the cities of Victorville, Spring Valley Lake, Adelanto, Hesperia, Apple Valley & the surrounding Victor Valley High Desert communities of So. California. Specializing in short sale and distressed properties.

4 Comments

  1. These guys spend a fortune in research into their marketing campaigns – even the junk mail ones. Great ideas! If you’re going to learn from someone, you might as well learn from those people who are successful. The national and regional junk marketers have it down to a science.

  2. Great perspective, Winston. Your readers might enjoy a similarly-themed video that we created to highlight the difference between effective and less effective advertising mail. It’s on the web at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjWLepD4GOQ.

    Thanks again for your thoughtful observations about this important communications channel.

    Matt Broder
    VP, External Communications
    Pitney Bowes Inc.
    Twitter: ctwordsmith

  3. I agree you can learn a lot from junk mail. As a real estate business who sends out postcards in the mail, I would hope people would take time to read through their mail and not assume that all junk mail is bad.

  4. @Joshua, Thanks for commenting. It’s always better when someone else picks up the tab, lol.
    @Matt Broder, Thanks for your comment. Good video too. When my mail volume picks up I have to get one of those Pitney Bowes contraptions, lol.
    @Joe, Thank you for commenting. Yeah one has to always think of ways to get noticed and not get lost in the crowd of junk mail.

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