26 Nov


If I started giving clients a free set of spanners with every press campaign written, that’d be seen as odd wouldn’t it?

What about if I sent out speculative letters, to local businesses, letting them know they could win a cheap double-glazing offer if they let me write their web content?
Again, probably a bit weird.

This kind of thing seems to be happening though: companies communicating about/with stuff that is apropos of nothing. Here’s what I mean…

Last week I received a piece of DM from a well-known pet insurance company. I can’t knock them too much as they’ve looked after me (or rather, my pets) very well. However, the DM was – out of the blue – offering me a cheap holiday/’8-day cultural tour’  in Cappadocia, Turkey. What has a pet insurance company got to do with holidays in Turkey?? Did they get a job lot of package deals in, off the back of a Thomas Cook lorry, and think ‘how can we shift these?’ Will I be offered camel-hair coats in their next letter to me?
If the offer was, for example, a discount on boarding my pet with a certain company whilst I go on holiday, that would make sense. What’s the link between pet insurance and Cappadocia though?

A couple of days after this wonderful offer, I found myself on my local high street. I stopped for a coffee. In the coffee shop, by the till, I spotted something I’d seen in other local shops  – a 2014 diary, with a local estate agent’s branding on it. I was seen looking at the diary, as I was served my coffee, and told: ‘take one, it’s free’.
I took one to leaf through. It was a decent size, hardback, had a fake leather cover, and gold recessed lettering on the front (including the agent’s company logo).
These diaries can’t have been cheap to produce, but there was a stack of about 10 in every shop on the high street… all free.
This is a very kind offering, but what has a diary got to do with estate agents? Is buying/selling a house date sensitive? Will I be more inclined to purchase a £300,000 property because I’ve got a free diary?
If, for example, a florist had produced such diaries, this would make sense. Key dates could be marked – Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas, other religious festivals – as a reminder to buy flowers (maybe the mark could appear a week before the date, so people order in advance).
I can’t help thinking that this local estate agent has wasted money.

Finally – right at the end of last week – I was handed a business card. On one side of this business card was a huge image of a new car (a BMW since you ask). The business itself, for which the card was given, has absolutely nothing to do with cars.
I couldn’t query the choice of image without appearing rude, so didn’t find out the rationale behind it. I can only assume the card’s owner likes BMWs.
If I’d just been handed the card quickly though, I’d have been left with the impression that it belongs to a car salesman. It doesn’t.

To me, all of the above seems strange when you think how easy it is to make a relevant link between a business and that which it is seen to promote.
Think of the London Marathon. A few years back it was sponsored by Flora – a healthier margarine (supposedly lowering cholesterol), so entirely relevant. The marathon is now sponsored by Virgin Money: VirginMoneyGiving is one of the biggest fundraising sites around. People who run now collect donations for their chosen charity through that site.
In recent years Coronation Street has been sponsored by Harvey’s furniture store, and Cadbury’s chocolate. Most people watch the programme from their couch (and could’ve been reminded to get a new one) and/or view it with a cuppa and a chunk of chocolate.

Bringing things closer to home though, I recently received a letter and calendar from the RSPCA. I was on their database as I got my cat from a rescue centre affiliated with them.
The letter asked me how my cat was settling in (although I’ve had him nearly a year now) and – obviously – for a donation.
This made sense and was well targeted, so I duly obliged.

So, make a link to another company, offer something extra to customers, use fancy imagery… just be sure that it makes sense.

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