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Why is this direct mail piece a total failure?

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SARubin
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Why is this direct mail piece a total failure?

Post by SARubin »

Here's an advertisement I recently got in the mail for a high speed internet service.

I think the copy looks OK. And it follows some basic good structure for a one page direct mail piece

But can you guess what the fatal flaw is with this piece?

front_hughesnet-direct-mail-piece.jpg

I believe most experienced copywriters can uncover the mistake by simply asking a couple of obvious questions.

But for the less experienced among us, here's a clue...

The mistake was made before the stamp was ever put on the envelope...
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WordyWordpecker
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Re: Why is this direct mail piece a total failure?

Post by WordyWordpecker »

Is it the headline could be more powerful?
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Re: Why is this direct mail piece a total failure?

Post by SARubin »

WordyWordpecker wrote: April 11th, 2021, 3:24 pm Is it the headline could be more powerful?
You might be right Wordy,
A different headline would definitely be something worth split testing.

But that's not the FATAL flaw I was thinking of. Here's another clue...

The copy looks OK depending on who you send it to...
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Re: Why is this direct mail piece a total failure?

Post by Wordsmith »

Hello SARubin,

I've seen these before.

These are blanket template controls EchoStar (parent company) uses for HughesNet.

Down at the bottom right corner is the tracking number.

These controls are used for regional marketing.

The only areas on this sheet that get updated are:

Headline: Your days of slow internet are over!
City: Bennington
PS: Order by 4/28/21

The optional updating is:

Phone: 1-844-268-8492
Domain: HughesNetPower.com
Hook Phrase: Ask about the NEW Fusion service!

These template sales letters rarely use personalization.

For me, it is a lack of personalization.
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Re: Why is this direct mail piece a total failure?

Post by SARubin »

Wordsmith wrote: April 11th, 2021, 5:49 pm These template sales letters rarely use personalization.

For me, it is a lack of personalization.
Excellent answer,

And I agree, in this day and age they should at least pony up for some software that puts a recipients name on the letter. It doesn't cost that much to personalize a mailer and make it 10 times warmer right out of the gate.


I was going to wait a day before giving my answer, but I just can't keep it in anymore

The fatal flaw I was thinking of is with their targeting.

Personally, I don't think it's a terrible letter... It's not trying to tell a story, and it's not trying to look like a report or an advertorial... But for a straight up benefit driven offer I think it looks pretty OK.

And if I had slow internet it would probably get my attention.

And that's why I believe this company just wasted a boatload of money mailing these out.

Their big offer is all about faster internet speeds.

But if they spent a few minutes on competitor research they'd know Comcast and TDS both run through my town.


By comparison...

In my area Comcast starts at 300Mbps (and goes up from there)

And TDS, with their fiber optic cables, starts at 350Mbps (and goes up from there)

So HughesNet, with their 25Mbps means my "Days Of Slow Internet" would just be getting started if I bought from these guys. (Contrary to what their headline says).


I figure even if it only cost $1.50 per letter (for the copywriter, printing, stuffing envelopes and postage...)
They still wasted a lot of money sending this ad to people who think their offer is ridiculous.

And to me, not knowing your target market is a fatal flaw.


I know, I know, this was kind of a trick question. Because my answer wasn't about the words on the page (it was about the recipient being open to the message).

But I've always believed research and knowing our market is a huge part of this game. Yes?
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Re: Why is this direct mail piece a total failure?

Post by Wordsmith »

You would think EchoStar, who spends $100,000,000+ a year in marketing, would personalize this.

However, their cold mail approach uses the Every Door Direct Mail model and mails to communities based on zip codes and median income.

For instance, here in Tallahassee, they would not target our southside or parts of the city's west side when they did market here.

Southside is low-income, and westside is college kids.

You also have to remember; they mail millions of these pieces around the country to targeted middle to upper-income zip code communities.

These pieces are at the top of their mailer funnel. When a person responds, they capture all the needed details to upsell the customer.

If they get a 1-2% response, the piece did its job. Also, EDDM is really cheap when a publicly-traded company does mass mailers.

When I worked for a magazine publisher, we did the same thing. The first step is to get into your mailbox and hoped for a response.
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Re: Why is this direct mail piece a total failure?

Post by SARubin »

Wordsmith wrote: April 11th, 2021, 8:50 pm You would think EchoStar, who spends $100,000,000+ a year in marketing, would personalize this.
Seems like an easy call to you and me. But I guess corporate don't see it that way?

Wordsmith wrote: April 11th, 2021, 8:50 pmHowever, their cold mail approach uses the Every Door Direct Mail model and mails to communities based on zip codes and median income.

For instance, here in Tallahassee, they would not target our southside or parts of the city's west side when they did market here.

Southside is low-income, and westside is college kids.

You also have to remember; they mail millions of these pieces around the country to targeted middle to upper-income zip code communities.
Ah yes, that's the part that confuses me.

When their main selling point is about "faster speed", (they mention it in the headline, sub-head, and first bullet point) why would they waste money targeting zip codes that already have higher internet speeds than what they're promoting?

Couldn't the money could be better spent mailing to a more likely buyer in a different zip code? One that doesn't already have faster internet than what they're promoting? Or at least adjust the message for the demographic.


Maybe they have a reason for it? But I don't see what it could be. It just seems like a waste.
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Re: Why is this direct mail piece a total failure?

Post by Wordsmith »

SARubin wrote: April 11th, 2021, 10:36 pmAh yes, that's the part that confuses me.

When their main selling point is about "faster speed" (they mention it in the headline, sub-head, and first bullet point), why would they waste money targeting zip codes that already have higher internet speeds than what they're promoting?
If we knew what their research showed, we'd understand their methodology.

For instance, Comcast took a huge financial loss of $2.6 Billion, with customers leaving them in 2020. With their data caps and price hikes, and lousy customer service. Not to mention the 248,000 video subscribers who disconnected from Comcast.

The other example is AT&T's very own, DirectTV. They've lost 6.7 million customers in the past 24 months.

All of a sudden, HughesNet arrives in the mail. If you're in one of those zip codes, frustrated with Comcast or Directv, this might be a better alternative and a breath of fresh air.

So, EchoStar takes advantage of this, but not knowing who is effective, and to reduce customer acquisition costs, the direct mail piece is sent to "Current Resident."

And when you call the number on the mailer, you will be speaking to a representative, in a call center, possibly outside of the United States.
SARubin wrote: April 11th, 2021, 10:36 pmCouldn't the money could be better spent mailing to a more likely buyer in a different zip code? One that doesn't already have faster internet than what they're promoting? Or at least adjust the message for the demographic.


Maybe they have a reason for it? But I don't see what it could be. It just seems like a waste.
Agreed. As a recognized global satellite company, their customers pay for the marketing and why their prices will begin to creep up once the promotion ends.

Bottom line, it's straight cold, lead generation.
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Re: Why is this direct mail piece a total failure?

Post by Franklin »

SARubin wrote: April 11th, 2021, 10:36 pm
When their main selling point is about "faster speed", (they mention it in the headline, sub-head, and first bullet point) why would they waste money targeting zip codes that already have higher internet speeds than what they're promoting?

Couldn't the money could be better spent mailing to a more likely buyer in a different zip code? One that doesn't already have faster internet than what they're promoting? Or at least adjust the message for the demographic.
I hate Comcast when they keep raising my bill without warning, but I'd have to be nuclear pissed off to consider lowering my Internet speed by over 90%. And I don't think I could make it work anyway.

25Mbps (mega bits per second) is effectively 3 Megabytes per second, which is barely enough bandwidth for my kids to stream a high quality movie on Netflix. And forget about watching that movie if anyone else in the house is online at the same time.

A couple of people checking emails and visiting a few websites 25Mbps is enough, but with the whole family online, especially working from home over the past year, it would be unworkable. We would have to take turns using the Internet like we take turns using the bathroom in the morning.
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Re: Why is this direct mail piece a total failure?

Post by SARubin »

Franklin wrote: April 12th, 2021, 10:24 am
I hate Comcast when they keep raising my bill without warning, but I'd have to be nuclear pissed off to consider lowering my Internet speed by over 90%. And I don't think I could make it work anyway.

25Mbps (mega bits per second) is effectively 3 Megabytes per second, which is barely enough bandwidth for my kids to stream a high quality movie on Netflix. And forget about watching that movie if anyone else in the house is online at the same time.

A couple of people checking emails and visiting a few websites 25Mbps is enough, but with the whole family online, especially working from home over the past year, it would be unworkable. We would have to take turns using the Internet like we take turns using the bathroom in the morning.
Yeah, that's why I believe this offer, as targeted, is a loser.

If they spent a little time researching the competitive landscape, they could have easily discovered the right zip codes for the "faster" pitch - Basically any zip code that doesn't already have 100X faster internet might be worth mailing this offer to.

They could even have an intern do the research for free. So no real cost there.

And then they could try selling to the zip codes that already have high speed internet with a different pitch - Like better customer service, or lower prices, or an end to the frustration of whatever USP makes them better than the competition. (But "faster" internet is definitely not it).

Honestly, I'm convinced hughesnet will be lucky to see any response from anywhere near my zip code with the "faster" sales pitch.

It just doesn't sync with the truth. In fact, it's the opposite of peoples reality.

Even if by some twist of fate they do get a small response, I'm convinced they'd lose most of those customers quickly, as soon as people see just how crippling slow hughenet really is in their daily lives, compared to what they're used to.

Wordsmith wrote: April 12th, 2021, 12:31 am
If we knew what their research showed, we'd understand their methodology.


All of a sudden, HughesNet arrives in the mail. If you're in one of those zip codes, frustrated with Comcast or Directv, this might be a better alternative and a breath of fresh air.

So, EchoStar takes advantage of this, but not knowing who is effective, and to reduce customer acquisition costs, the direct mail piece is sent to "Current Resident."
Yeah, I see where your coming from, Wordsmith.

But honestly, I'm not so sure I would understand it.

I realize it's been many years since I was anywhere near the corporate world. And I know the money flows differently in that atmosphere. But even back then I was often frustrated with the lack of efficiency and the waste of resources.

It probably comes from my growing up with parents who grew up during the great depression. So "waste not, want not" was drilled into my brain from an early age.


In all fairness, I've also considered the possibility that maybe my zip code was just a mistake?

Or a few thousand dollar gamble just to test for any market interest? That way it would only waste a few thousand dollars of the budget, instead of the millions in waste if they randomly sent this same offer to poorly targeted zip codes across the country.


Anyway, I'll keep an eye on my mailbox for us. And if I see this letter show up over and over again, I'll report back. Because that could mean it's actually working for them in my area? (and then I may have to go back and re-evaluate everything I ever thought I knew about market research and message to market match :( )
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Re: Why is this direct mail piece a total failure?

Post by Wordsmith »

SARubin wrote: April 13th, 2021, 9:43 am
Wordsmith wrote: April 12th, 2021, 12:31 am
If we knew what their research showed, we'd understand their methodology.


All of a sudden, HughesNet arrives in the mail. If you're in one of those zip codes, frustrated with Comcast or Directv, this might be a better alternative and a breath of fresh air.

So, EchoStar takes advantage of this, but not knowing who is affected, and to reduce customer acquisition costs, the direct mail piece is sent to "Current Resident."
Yeah, I see where your coming from, Wordsmith.

But honestly, I'm not so sure I would understand it.

I realize it's been many years since I was anywhere near the corporate world. And I know the money flows differently in that atmosphere. But even back then I was often frustrated with the lack of efficiency and the waste of resources.

It probably comes from my growing up with parents who grew up during the great depression. So "waste not, want not" was drilled into my brain from an early age.

In all fairness, I've also considered the possibility that maybe my zip code was just a mistake?

Or a few thousand dollar gamble just to test for any market interest? That way it would only waste a few thousand dollars of the budget, instead of the millions in waste if they randomly sent this same offer to poorly targeted zip codes across the country.

Anyway, I'll keep an eye on my mailbox for us. And if I see this letter show up over and over again, I'll report back. Because that could mean it's actually working for them in my area? (and then I may have to go back and re-evaluate everything I ever thought I knew about market research and message to market match :( )
Like you, I, too, was brought up not to spend dollars to save pennies. But having been an in-house copywriter and editor at a marketing agency and then moving over to freelancing for marketing and advertising agencies, their ways defy common sense.

You and I focus on a specific audience; conglomerates focus on brand awareness and blanket audience focus. But once their customer comes through the door, their teams start drilling down with add-ons, specials, 3-tiered packages, etc. :twisted:

Now getting back to the initial offer. Remember, that piece's wording is only to get the curious through the door. It is considered a lost leader. The intent is to build a new list.

Once the customer calls in, the call center rep will have ADDITIONAL packages to offer those who inquire. When it's all said and done, the FREE standard installation isn't really free.

Note the asterisk in the johnson box after the word 'Installation'. That indicates the customer will get the free offer, IF they do or buy into the offer, e.g., sign up for a 24-month contract, buy channel packages, etc.

Also, notice the double-asterisk after the 25 Mbps wording directly across from the Johnson box. That means there are other conditions. EchoStar has thought this through, and their legal team has reviewed the wording carefully.

At the end of the day, the only thing this piece is for is to troll mailboxes in search of new customers and see if the Bennington residences will show enough interest to continue offering services to that community.
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