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We’ve got a cream for that

7 November 2014

Ignore Agatha Christie. Never mind Inspector Morse. No, surely Embarrassing Bodies is the greatest of all TV mysteries. We mean, why on earth would anyone appear on a programme designed to show the world their stinkiest, most hideous maladies? I’ve got a boil on my balls the size of an ostrich egg, and it’s too humiliating to show my GP. I know, I’ll pop it out on Channel Four…

Exposing repulsions to the general public seems a strange way of making television. But you could say advertising has been doing the same thing for years.

Junk mail, or direct mail as it’s more kindly referred to in the industry, is advertising’s glistening zit. No other form of marketing seems quite so repellent (except maybe Chantelle and her 8pm phone call about mis-sold PPI).

There’s plenty to hate about it: the relentless badgering; all those envelopes to open; your shattered dreams when realising that clunk through the letterbox is just another offer from Virgin Media, and not a marriage-proposal from Ryan Gosling or an old map to your late-uncle’s buried fortune.

Despite this public aversion, it keeps on coming. Advertisers love it. And really, so should you.

The thing about direct mail – its major advantage to consumers and businesses alike – is its ability to be tailored to a specific target audience or individual that few other forms of advertising can match.

The time restraints of TV, the space limitations of print and the visual-absence of radio advertising are all overcome. Marketers have the opportunity to create something special. And then send it directly and personally to you.

The established formula for direct mail works, that’s undeniable. The predictable combination of outer envelope with teaser/headline, a sales letter, brochure and a reply slip has been proven to generate sales and make money. If it didn’t, it would have been abandoned ages ago. Any good copywriter can produce profitable advertising for their clients within the current conventions.

But whether it’s down to lack of ideas, investment or interest many companies these days seem more than happy to ship tedious junk through your door and then expect a thank you (in the shape of an order).

So consider this: if direct mail has seen so much success, despite being more unwelcome than an intimate fungus, how many more sales could it produce if people actually wanted the stuff? What if every mailing offered something interesting like a magazine article, or informative like you’d find in a newspaper or press release? It could even be funny, thought-provoking or challenging yet still position its product or company in equally clear and persuasive terms.

What if content marketing (creating and sharing information to acquire customers) could be used much more widely and effectively in direct mail? Why should you have to go online to find the benefits of UK holidays, the latest Ford Focus review or Tommy Cooper’s best lines? They could be posted straight through your door and then tell you where a product fits in with it all.

It would be unconventional (and might risk a few failed attempts) but if direct mail really stretched the boundaries of what it’s capable of then we could not only take the junk out of junk mail, but also create one of the most powerful advertising strategies around.

It remains a mystery why the industry has suffered this junk mail affliction for so long. Maybe sometimes it’s just easier to ignore the problem and hope it gets better by itself.

But if Embarrassing Bodies has taught us anything (other than the lengths some people will reach to get on TV) it’s that no matter how ugly or irritating something has become, there’s always hope if you’re willing to get your fingers in and apply the necessary treatment.


Posted by Rob.

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Spoon Media, Cleatham, Kirton Lindsey, Nr Gainsborough, North Lincolnshire DN21 4JN
X Walter's Lincolnshire


Company profile

With Walter’s you’re right at home. Spoon Media’s theme for Lincoln estate agent Walter’s immediately lets you know you’re dealing with a company you can trust – in this case the longest-established estate agent in Lincoln.

Project information

When you’re working with a successful brand that’s been around for longer than two centuries, you can’t take any chances. Which was why Spoon Media’s gentle rebranding and carefully tweaked logo were the perfect counterbalance to an all-new, ultra-clean website with full content management, SEO copywriting and property search facilities incorporating bespoke MySQL databases. Needless to say, Walter’s new customers came very quickly indeed.

Spoon Media’s services to Walter's include:

X Portfolio item


Company profile

Quest-eeze is a one-stop country store, animal feed retailer and online equestrian shop. Based in Lincolnshire, Quest-eeze supplies everything for the pet owner, horse rider and farmer on a local or national level.

Project information

Spoon Media loves animals even more than our Apple Mac computers, so Quest-eeze was a natural business partner. Picking up a part-started website and semi-established brand allowed us to make our own little mark on Lincolnshire’s loveliest pet shop, extending to a complete online shop with secure payments and delivery database.

Spoon Media’s services to Quest-eeze include: