To highlight good writing, sometimes we need to hold our nose and consider writing that stinks. And so it smells with this direct mail piece from a local car dealership. Now dealerships are not known for creativity in their marketing—just a lot of exclamation points and claims of extraordinary prices that, you come to find out, only apply if you’re a military veteran who’s a woman who owns her own business and if it’s Wednesday and the wind is coming from the south.
I try to forgive dealerships. I know they’re in a turn-and-burn business and don’t have time for the epic poetry I’d like to see in all writing. But, still, this direct mail piece is so unimaginative it, I believe, has damaged some of my DNA upon reading. It uses the biggest cliché of all time: The “Our huge sale was SO successful, we decided to extend it!!!”
Please. Spare me. I find it very difficult to believe that the marketing chief was planning to end the sale today, but upon crunching the numbers, ran over to the dealership honcho and screamed, “Hank! Ending the sale now would be insane! I implore you to run it one more week!!!” (I made up the name Hank. But, by law, I believe every dealership must have at least one person named Hank on the premises at all times.)
What really bugs me, though, is they, like the Patty Loveless song says, don’t even know who I am. You see, they want to buy back my 2007 Dodge Ram 1500. There’s only one problem. I sold it two years ago. To them. Then I bought a new truck. From them. You’d think that vital info would be in the records somewhere. Maybe it’s time to update your CRM, Hank. I bet your response rate would increase a hair if you actually knew what I was in the market for, Hank.
Lessons learned? Even in the oft soulless direct mail business, there’s room for a soft peck of originality. Not every piece needs to be slapped with the cliché stamp. I know it can be done. I just wrote a bunch of cool stuff for Harley-Davidson. And if I had used even one cliché, they probably would have beat me up. Them bikers are tough.
Finally, unless you totally want to waste your postage next time, you might want to know what I actually drive, Hank. It’s a black 2010 Dodge Ram SLT 1500. Quad cab. Remember? You said I looked really good in it.