Monday, April 27, 2009

Do 'curiosity' style headlines work in direct marketing?

This arrived in the mail the other week.

Clearly they are hoping I'll be intrigued enough to open the envelope and see what it is all about. I was. But then again, I look at ads way too much. But for your (normal) busy person - does this work?

John Caples in his classic 'Tested Advertising Methods' cautioned that curiosity-style headlines in ads are risky. People don't care enough. Anybody have evidence suggesting otherwise?

This DM piece is for a charity. Given most non-profits don't have buckets of spare cash hanging around, I'd hate to think they are blowing budgets on risky communication strategies.


Conor Byrne said...

Assume you mean the headline is risky for the charity not the idea of DM

What charity was it for? Would be interesting to find out how it went for them?

Paul Dervan said...

Well, I mean curiosity headlines are risky in general because a lot of people are too busy to care enough to open.

For example Conor, if this piece had been for a children's charity, you could have been interested but they lost you before you had a chance to get involved with the piece. I suspect they've have better chances of success if they cut to the chase and try and appeal to your interests immediately.

It was for worldvision. Who knows, it may have worked well. I don't know. Just don't think I'd take the risk.

Daniel Oyston said...

I think it is risky because you become skeptical. I am a bit like you, I look at and analyse this stuff more than the average person, but when I see that I think “The content is probably not relevant to me and that is why they need to use a hook like that to get me to open it”.

I am also very suspicious when there is no branding on the outside … are they embarrassed or trying to hide something? Either way, they would be better of focusing on creating a brand where people want to open mail from them.

I don’t like to promote my own blog in the comments of other people’s blogs but you may find this post I wrote on DM interesting

Lisa said...

I thought it was for real estate. That is who I associate with curiousity marketing. So I wouldn't have opened it.

And I work (volunteer) with an NFP.


Damian O'Broin said...

The golden rule with envelope copy is that it needs to get you closer to actually opening the envelope. If you're going to use any sort of teaser on the envelope you need to be damn sure it's something compelling enough to get the reader to the next step. This one isn't. It's not really engaging at all. Was there anything (branding, image, copy?) on the reverse?

I presume they're trying to dramatise something here - probably an eye disease, or maybe something along the lines 'in the time it takes you to blink, X children have died from...' If so, they could have done it much better. Re-phasing as a question would have been a start.

It strikes me as an example of someone trying to be clever. And clever rarely works with non-profit DM.

The other big concern I have with this type of approach is that it can sometimes amount to tricking people into opening the envelope. If you have to resort to tricking people to open you envelope then a) you've got a real credibility problem b) people tricked into opening are hardly going to turn into great supporters and c) you're likely to p**s people off - damaging your own brand and the image of the sector as a whole.

Paul Dervan said...

Thanks for the comments folks. Some good stuff there.

Damian's 60+ tips on his blog is worth a read if any of you haven't seen it. (Conor, I know you have. You led me to it.)

Daniel, I had a read of your post too. Like the tattoo DM.