Going back to the future with snail mail, word-of-mouth

Companies looking for ways to let the world know about their committed customer service are going back to the future to do it. Snail mail, once the junk repository for most, is now new and shiny again. Email has become the primary junk repository for most.

And, while online advertising is now a powerful, influential medium, it’s still advertising. Many folks ignore it or don’t believe it. In some cases, the top social media platforms won’t accept advertising. As a result, companies are using robust word-of-mouth techniques.

No matter what avenues are used, maximizing bang for the buck with the most effective tactics ultimately can save on marketing dollars—emulating the Costco model that focuses on keeping expenditures down to keep consumer prices lower.

In addition, appealing to the marketplace in ways they will accept and appreciate is its own form of customer service. How many times have you gotten annoyed by disruptive or irrelevant online ads? Marketing outreach that finds receptive audiences, in contrast, is helping serve customers by providing pertinent and valuable information that can educate and drive interest.

A 2018 CNBC.com report addresses the refusal of Facebook and Google to accept CBD ads, causing one advertiser of CBD-infused dog products to get creative:

“CBD and marijuana companies are restricted from advertising on Google and Facebook. The companies are looking to events, sponsorships and other ways to connect with customers. ‘Facebook is not the end all, be all,’ said the ZenPup’s David Bozin…The co-founders, who worked in marketing and public relations, are spending time building relationships with media companies, high-end dispensaries and pet accessory retailers, along with other brands that might be open to partnering with a CBD provider. They’re finding popular social media influencers, who can support the products organically on their accounts…”

Another approach is storytelling and finding a narrative that can generate PR…For example, branding agency Abel told the story of Charlotte’s Web, a dietary supplement company named after Charlotte Figi, a young girl who suffered from epileptic seizures. With the help of CBD, Figi was able to reduce her seizures and improve her health.

With ‘brands like Charlotte’s Web, the founders, who are very positive about the cannabis opportunities, have been able to use PR as a marketing channel,’ Abel CEO Julian Shiff said. ‘The word of mouth is so strong they are developing a tribe around their brand.’”

On the print front, a 2018 Vox.com article looks at “Why so many hip startups advertise with snail mail.” It points out:

“The idea of having a mailbox full of actual mail seems outdated…Yet over the last few years, brands — including hot, digitally savvy, direct-to-consumer ones like Casper, Harry’s, Wayfair, Rover, Quip, Away, Handy, and Modcloth — have taken to targeting customers in the mail…Why do these disruptive, online-first companies want to be our old school pen pals?”

The article continues:

“The rise of young, digital brands spending money to mail us stuff speaks to the cyclical progress of shopping trends. A decade ago, companies looking to reach customers would often buy email addresses from third parties. They’d do giveaways and, if existing customers handed over their family and friends’ email addresses, they’d offer discounts too…Fast forward 10 years and the virtual mailbox today looks a whole lot like our parents’ IRL mailboxes back then: A total shit show…Emails often get deleted without so much as being opened…”

Companies looking to boost customer satisfaction and marketing reach may want to go back to the future to achieve the best results.

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Ability to “spread the word on steroids” via technologically-fueled social media, online discussion forums and reviews, and in-the-moment media reporting is empowering companies to promote themselves effectively by offering consummate customer service to all stakeholders—including customers, employees, partners and vendors. Sometimes, this can be so powerful that companies thrive without spending oodles of marketing dollars—especially when it comes to advertising and PR.

Mark Lusky is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience.

Author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage,  Mark (aka The Happy Curmudgeon) is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm.

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