Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Good cause, bad execution
I got a fat package in the mail from a religious group that runs a school on one of the big Indian reservations. Unpacked it to find:
And of course a fundraising plea -- would I please give them $25 to help them serve the children.
You have to wonder, of course, how much it cost them to buy and package and mail all this stuff. Not to mention how much it cost to hire the marketing genius who thought up this campaign. I'm sure it's designed to make me feel guilty -- look at all this great swag I've scored, I have to pay them back. But for me it has the opposite effect -- if money is so scarce, why don't you spend it on the children instead of sending me plastic tote bags? What kind of weird, stupid decision-making is going on at this institution? Why would I support a charity with such cynical and wasteful ideas?
Direct mail is one of the most easily monitored and evaluated forms of marketing ever invented; you know exactly how many of Letter A you sent out, and exactly how much money you got in return. If a direct mail pitch doesn't work, you rewrite the letter and try another pitch. So there are obviously enough suckers out there who are responding to the tote bags and dreamcatchers to make them keep doing it. But I wonder how much will go to keep the perpetual motion direct mail machine in motion and how much to the Indian school.
Oh well, the two-year-old will love the tote bags, and maybe the ballpoint pen will write OK. The rest goes straight in the trash.