No matter what you do for a living, inspiration comes from all around us. As human beings, we are naturally influenced by each other and each other’s ideas. That’s why we suddenly see orange shirts everywhere (see our recent post on the color of the year), or everyone trying to imitate some viral video on YouTube like the Old Spice Guy or the Dollar Shave club.
Imitation works sometimes, but often it does not. The problem with copying what someone else does is that your business has to somehow make the idea your own by tweaking it or allowing it to morph into something even better. Here are three examples of imitation campaigns we’ve seen recently that we hope will get you thinking about what NOT to do when brainstorming ideas.
End-of-Year Donation Letters
The end of the year is a big time for nonprofits. Most businesses and individuals wait until the end of the year to decide how much money they can afford to give to their favorite causes. Of course, nonprofits take advantage of this mindset and work diligently to contact past and potential donors hoping to get their share of the pie. We don’t blame them. The problem is, everyone is doing it at the same time! Here’s a picture of the pile we received last December.
What do you see? Nothing special? Of course not! They all look the same. If you could read them, you’d find out all the letters sound the same too. However, we did receive one solicitation that stuck out. It was a holiday card. By combining holiday wishes and a thank you for a past gift with the solicitation, it actually made us want to whip out our wallets and donate again. If you’re with a nonprofit, challenge yourself next December, or whenever your fiscal year ends, to come up with something besides a piece of white paper in a #10 envelope. You don’t want to get lost in the shuffle.
Promotions and New Job Announcements
There are a number of publications that run personnel listings and there are several financial advisors who pay attention to these blurbs. If you are one of them, listen up. Yes, I’ve received a promotion or landed a new job, but that doesn’t mean I have lots of new money to invest. And if I did, would I respond to your vanilla approach?
Ok, ok, we can’t blame you for trying. There is a slight chance you might find someone in the market for a new to person manage their money. The problem is that you are trying to find that person using the same method as your competition. The mailed congratulatory notes and the unsolicited phone calls rarely work the way you might hope; it’s barely enough marketing to get attention or move the promoted person to action. People are usually skeptical by nature and rarely reply to random requests to work together. So quit wasting your time Googling phone numbers and mailing missives. Try some other smarter strategies to land yourself new clients.
And to the financial planner who mailed me a crumpled letter with the coffee stain: nice work getting my attention. You’re still not getting my money.
One of our family members was recently in an automobile accident – no injury occurred – thank goodness. Within a week of the State of Wisconsin motor vehicle accident report being filed, we received a slew of mailings from personal injury law firms. Several used almost the exact same messaging of “one call is all you need” (paraphrased of course). All focused on the firms’ capabilities, using nearly the exact same language, and included a form letter with the materials. Only Hupy and Abraham’s mailings stood out from the rest. It included a helpful guide related to automobile accidents, as well as impressive testimonials and resources. Only a few took advantage of the outside of the envelope to share some catchy thing about their firm.
We assume the direct mail approach must work, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many law firms using this tactic. But to truly stand out from the pile of other firms, it is important to do something different. If we were to choose to set up a meeting with a law firm based on just the mailings we received, I bet you can guess who we’d meet with.
Post by Chistina Steder, Jackie Costa and Susan Schoultz of Clear Verve Marketing. Follow us on Twitter:@clearverve @JackieMCosta @clearverve2
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