While reading the Sunday paper today, my wife handed me a marketing piece that was inserted in today’s issue. It was a cool-looking brochure for a large local nonprofit.
This particular nonprofit is very well-heeled and very well known. It’s probably fair to say they have a national reputation in their field.
The brochure didn’t have their name on the cover. Just a “clever” phrase. It only identified the organization using their initials.
I guess they accomplished one of their goals because we pulled it from the rest of the advertising stuff and we actually opened it up and looked at it.
And it got our attention because when you opened it, a bunch of stuff popped out at you. It’s one of those “three-dimensional” marketing pieces.
But that’s all they accomplished because it quickly went into the garbage can.
Looking at the marketing piece made me wonder a couple things.
One, I wondered how much they paid for it.
Having some experience with print media, my guess is they a couple dollars each. Then, of course they paid to have the piece inserted into several hundred thousand newspapers.
Whatever they paid, I think they paid too much.
Sure, the color and the “pop-out” feature made the piece unique. But it didn’t compel me to want to learn more about this organization. And the three-dimensional design actually made it hard to read what little content was there.
My conclusion about the design is that it was a case of form winning out over function. Maybe their creative person (or team) decided it would be good marketing to create something so different that it would almost jump out of the newspaper at people.
The problem is, after it jumped out and got our attention, it did a lousy job delivering their message.
The second thing I wondered was why did they send this to a broad media with a large, general readership?
Of course I know why.
They wanted to take their message to a bigger audience. They wanted to expand awareness of who they are, beyond their existing base.
I think this was a big mistake.
First, their marketing piece did not do a good job at delivering their message. It was unique and even cool. But that’s not enough to deliver a message effectively.
Second, they used the wrong media.
Putting an insert in a large metro Sunday edition is expensive. Very expensive. Especially when 99% of the readers have no interest in your organization.
They could have knocked on doors and got a better response for less money.
But, I think their biggest mistake was strategic.
Why spend all that money trying to convert people who (as far as they know) have no interest in their organization?
This is a 20th Century marketing strategy. It’s what you did 10, 20, 30 years ago and more. It worked when mass media was the only option available if you had big marketing dollars to spend.