Email Marketing Lesson: Your Marketing Reminds Me Of My Grandmother's Saggy Underwear

żby: Joan Pasay

I moved into a new office recently and was unpacking when I realized I was fading fast and needed a caffeine fix. Seems my Starbucks cappuccino machine had gotten lost with the movers. I panicked.

"Now what?" I thought. I had never gone a full afternoon without a latte. I knew something would happen if I didn't get one, and it would probably be the kind of thing that would come up with my therapist, so skipping my caffeine fix was not an option. I already had two pages of issues we were covering. I guess the unpacking would have to be put on hold.

I set my Starbucks radar on full alert and followed the trail of casual business attire. Sure enough, two blocks later I found a Starbucks on the corner. As I pulled open the door, a tiny gentleman whisked in under my arm. And that is how I met Mr. Pibs.

Mr. Pibs had been coming to that particular Starbucks since it opened. Every afternoon about the same time as my current 'mind fade,' he too needed a fix. We got our coffees and made our way to the comfy chairs.

Mr. Pibs told me he was in wholesale pet supplies and owned his own manufacturing facility. He started up 25 years ago with a tiny shop in his garage and now leased a 200,000 square foot facility and employed over fifty workers. We sipped our coffees and chatted about business. I asked him how he marketed his products to potential retail outlets.

"We have a subscriber-based mailing list," he said. "About 2500 quality pet stores across the US."

I was impressed! 2500 leads does not sound like much but these stores had asked to be contacted. The stores were real, potential buyers looking for product. "So do you keep in touch monthly or do you find seasonal works better?" I casually asked.

"Monthly!" Mr. Pibs exclaimed in horror. "That would be $50,000 of postage a year! No, we send our full color brochure on an annual basis, costs us about $4000 in mailing fees. I pull a few ladies off the assembly line and get them licking stamps and stuffing envelopes. We've been doing our marketing like this since the second year we started. Sure is great that printing is a lot cheaper these days. Saves us a bundle!"

I gagged on the foam in my cup and felt a familiar feeling come over me. Before I knew it I was standing and waving my arms around my head in large circles.

"Mr.Pibs, are you insane?" I yelled at the top of my lungs, and started to rant, arms waving. "What marketing cave did you just crawl out of? Why not put your catalogue online? Why not use a regular Email Marketing campaign to keep in touch with the pet stores on a regular basis? Are you anti-technology? Why are on earth are you sending all that stuff by mail?.." And then I realized I hardly knew this man and was basically telling him he was a buffoon. But I didn't have time to compose myself because at that very moment, when I was in mid-sentence of my Email Marketing rant, in walked my grandmother.

Crap! I had forgotten Grammy was going to meet me at my new office! She quickly spotted me and made a beeline in my direction. As she got closer I noticed she had a very odd looking hat on her head. It was all bumpy and sort of looked like a bag. I noticed a familiar looking label:

Victoria's Secret.

Since when did Victoria's Secret make hats?

But I did not have time to ask, I had to make Grandma think we were supposed to meet at the Starbucks and I also had to make up quick with Mr. Pibs before my new friend thought I was a lunatic.

I turned to Mr.Pibs, and noticed he was frozen, mouth hanging open in shock at my Email Marketing, arm waving, soapbox speech.

Grandma grabbed the vacant seat next to Mr. Pibs and plopped herself down, scooching her behind, desperately trying to get it past the arm rests.

Mr. Pibs thawed and whispered in horror, "That women has a pair of underwear -- on her head."

And sure enough my Grandmother did indeed have a pair of Victoria's Secret underwear on her head, covering up a mass of curlers.

I gasped.

"Child," my grandmother said, "I have been looking everywhere for you!" Noticing Mr. Pibs, and unaware he and I had been having a conversation, Grandma looked a little alarmed at my tiny frozen friend. No surprise; the lack of color in his face was hard to miss. "Tiny man," she said, "You look ill, is the coffee too strong for your tiny stomach?"

"Grandma," I spoke slowly, turning toward Mr. Pibs. "This is my new friend, Mr. Pibs." Then: "Mr. Pibs, I apologize for my Email Marketing rant, this is my Grammy. We had a coffee date this afternoon."

My grandmother stretched out her hand in a gesture of welcome. Mr.Pibs sat still, staring at my grandmother's hair curler cover."Woman, why is there underwear on your head?"

"Oh this?" she said, as she whipped off the over-stretched skivvies, uncovering an array of pink and white curlers. "These are old and all stretched out of shape from too many years on the rear. This pair works great to keeps my curlers in place. I upgraded to organic cotton underwear years ago."

And with that we, or rather Grandma and Mr. Pibs, laughed and chatted away the afternoon. Those two hit it off so well I found myself a little bored. Just as well, I could not get Mr. Pibs''marketing strategy' out of my mind. Well, at least the US postal service would not go out of business anytime soon with Mr. Pibs around. I sat there watching those two laugh it up, and shook my head in disbelief at my grandmother's Victoria's Secret curler coverer. Mr. Pibs' marketing strategy was a lot like those underwear. Old, out of shape, and all sagged out.

I met Mr. Pibs again for coffee (without the distraction of Grammy and her head gitch) and mentioned to him that any company that was not active online and using Email Marketing might want to retire. He agreed that his whole approach should be put in a rest home. It was kind of tough explaining all that Email Marketing stuff to Mr.Pibs; he was a real Email Marketing newbie.

I struggled for a bit with analogies and realized the image of those saggy underwear on my Grandma's head was a perfect place to start. I kept going with the gonch theme and Mr. Pibs slowly began to understand the difference in each type of Email Marketing approach. We talked Email Marketing strategy and how a drawer full of a variety of underwear styles was truly the best option for total marketing support.

If you are having a tough time explaining Email Marketing to your antique boss or your clients, feel free to try on some of these. They worked with Mr. Pibs so I am sure they will work for you.

Broadcast Messages are like Thongs: These little numbers work great at announcing, "Hey look at me,look at all the stuff I have to offer...right now!" You do want to exercise some restraint, however. Just like you don't want to be wearing a thong everyday, neither would you send a broadcast message everyday.

Auto-Responders are like Full Figured Women's Petty Pants: If you are not up on full-figured petty pants, they look more like a pair of long tight shorts. Large figured women wear petty pants to prevent the thighs from rubbing together. Similarly, auto-responders prevent the chafing away of your time and resources due to answering the same queries over and over and over. Women's petty pants make all figures, regardless of size, look like a million bucks. Auto-Responders make you look like a hero with timely helpful responses no matter if it is just you running the show or a whole office full of customer service reps.

Regularly Delivered E-Newsletters are like 100% Cotton Briefs: For regular wear you can't beat a pair of 100% cotton briefs and for customer retention you can't beat a regularly delivered e-newsletter. Everyone prefers a different cut of brief depending on the amount of desired coverage, and it's no different in the email world. Every company has a different idea of what their regular e-zine will cover and what kind of promotion it will give their products and services.

Mr. Pibs and I still meet at the Starbucks once a week or so for our afternoon caffeine fix. His company has really taken off since he got on board with Email Marketing. I think he will probably be moving into a larger warehouse in the New Year just to keep up with orders. He even launched a new product line (via email, of course)to celebrate - Pudgy Puppy Petty Pants.

And the infamous curler cover? We did not realize it until later that day but Grandma's saggy underwear got left on the table at Starbucks along with a business card I had whipped out during my Email Marketing rant. I wonder who discovered the saggy gonch? Would I ever find out? Would the discoverer of those skivvies become a future client? I'll keep you posted if anything materializes.

And me? My Starbucks cappuccino machine surfaced after three months of traveling around the western states but I still find my way down the block most afternoons. I've also been reworking my own regular email marketing campaign in light of my decision to try a lower cut brief for regular wear. Revealing more product details is proving to be very effective. My conversion rate indicates my customers are really appreciating the increased exposure I'm giving my products and services.

Is your marketing approach a little sagged, over stretched and worn out? Try Email Marketing on for size. It comes in all sorts of cuts and styles guaranteed to boost your bottom line.

About The Author

Joan Pasay

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Earn good karma, forward this article to everyone you know who has an email address. Heck, you can even print it and post it everywhere, the Internet karma gods won't know the difference.

Copyright Joan Pasay - 2005

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