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When Expensive Marketing Collateral Is a Waste of Money

June 2, 2011  

In a post at The Top Line blog, Barbara Bix recounts the story of a friend who disapproved of the expensive marketing collateral sent by universities to her college-bound son. "She described the quality of the paper, the outsized packaging, and the heft of the packages they've been receiving—all of which she tosses in the waste bin," notes Bix.

Bix explained to her friend that colleges charging upwards of $100,000 for a four-year degree could probably generate ROI on pricy direct marketing campaigns. But the conversation did pique Bix's interest in the content of these mailings. "I suggested she open a few to see if they had a message that would compel her to act, something that was important to either her or her son," she says.

Her friend agreed—and Bix saw that one college made several critical errors, including these:

  • Talking to a high school sophomore about taking on new challenges—something unlikely to interest him—and providing the admission director's phone number for further conversation. "[T]he chances are slim that any teenage would call an adult and this marketing communication didn't offer an email option."
  • Failing to use the data at its disposal to address concerns like distance from home and financial aid.
  • Including generic images like those of the Dalai Lama, an operating room, a row of apartments and kids kicking a soccer ball. "[I]f one just saw the pictures," says Bix, "he or she would be hard-pressed to guess what the sender was advertising."

The Po!nt: You might be able to justify expensive collateral in your lead-generation campaign—but be sure that a weak message doesn't negate the extra cost.

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  • by Peter from TAG Thu Jun 2, 2011 via web

    Shhhhhh! TAG has been having some great conversations with colleges and other businesses lately about better targeted messages helping colleges especially increase their enrollment yields

  • by Bill Fri Jun 3, 2011 via web

    Hrm. This headline caught my eye. But the "article" that follows is pretty shallow. I'm not sure the use of one single business example (education) aimed at one single individual (apparently, a high school sophomore) justifies the headline or provides the depth of conversation that could be initiated around this topic. A deeper look into this would have served me, as a reader, better. File this one along with Bix's junk mail -- in the waste bin. (P.S. Please recycle!)

  • by Vahe, MarketingProfs Sun Jun 5, 2011 via web

    Hey, Bill. These types of brief articles--a newsletter series we call "Get to the Po!nt" (GTTP)--are intended to be appetizers, not full meals. That's why we link to the original source, where you can go to feast... and quench your thirst for more info, if you're so inclined (intrigued or interested enough by the taste we've offered).

    Consider the GTTPs an attempt at curating--selecting, filtering, highlighting--content that marketers might be interested in. We have five GTTP newsletters at the moment. You can subscribe to them separately, here:

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