My mailbox is in conflict. At least the target marketers (that’s the modern uptown phrase for “junk mailers”) are having a little struggle trying to figure me out.
The folks who sell direct mail would have us believe that they know everything about us. And with that knowledge, they can reach just the sort of people suited for each product.
At our house, it doesn’t quite work out that way.
When I checked the mail Friday, there was an offer for active golfers to get 13 issues of a golf magazine and three free golf balls for $9. That’s because I was entitled to the “professional rate.”
I don’t know the definition of an active golfer, but I doubt that my two or three times a year puts me in the target market. And with a typical score in the 140s, I would think a “professional rate” might be a stretch.
But I was feeling a little flattered as I chucked the offer into the trash.
The next item in the mail was a color brochure inviting me to “Feel like yourself again.” Printed on the other side in very large type was an effort to personalize the pitch: “Thomas, ask about a free mobility consultation and receive a free 32-page puzzles and games booklet!”
I was no longer feeling flattered. My father worked puzzles and games books when he was in his 80s.
I looked at the return address: “The Scooter Store, New Braunfels, Texas.
Inside, The Scooter Store offered me their “Guaranteed Freedom Program,” which would work with my doctor to “identify your mobility needs, coordinate your Medicare or insurance benefits and help you get the mobility assistance you need at little to no cost to you.”
Included was my card with its “VIP Code” to get a free consultation. Maybe their consultant would like to follow my dogs and me around the neighborhood in the morning. On cold mornings, we scamper around in less than 15 minutes, and that’s making more than a few, ahem, stops.
I’m not saying direct mail never works. When I had lunch with a few friends this weekend, I was telling them about the “Great Courses” mailings I’ve been getting for the last couple of years.
Only one of them thought she might have seen these offers before.
What happened was that the first time they sent me the stuff, I looked over it and threw it away. I did the same thing with several more of their pitches, which sell you a series of college-style lectures by experts in the field. Last week, though, they upped the ante and threw in a free CD with two lectures, one about American history and another about the development of languages.
You guessed it. I’ve listened to them both, and have gone back to the brochure to see which of the courses I might want to buy.
My frugal wife suggested any of the ones that are on sale will be sure to make me smarter.
Looking for a sympathetic response, I told Jenny that the target marketers must think I’m old and nerdy.
She must not have heard me.
T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.