In Marketing and Advertising, Does Size Matter?

by Ken Mueller on January 27, 2012 · 30 comments

white 15 In Marketing and Advertising, Does Size Matter?Send to Kindle

101 1757 300x225 In Marketing and Advertising, Does Size Matter?

The other day I wrote about the art of the gentle reminder, and how social media works best when we don’t try to shout above the noise, thereby creating more noise. And clearly, when we are surrounded by clutter and lots of competition, our initial response is to get louder.

My kids often ask me, “Why are you yelling at us?”

My response is usually along the lines of, “Because you didn’t answer or listen the first time!” But after awhile, even the kids will tune out my yelling.

Then yesterday I got a direct mail postcard in the mail.

OK, not just any postcard. This was a direct mail piece that was HUGE. Because apparently, size does matter. It was a postcard, mind you. Not folded, just a postcard in all its 12″ x 15″ glory. According to the website for the company that produces this behemoth, it is the largest flat mailer allowed by postal regulations. They also use terms like “monster”, “ginormous”, and “hugely oversized”.

This postcard is a locally grown direct mail concept. One side has 10 ads for local businesses (as well as a few for the marketing company, itself), and the other side is one really large ad.

101 1761 1024x767 In Marketing and Advertising, Does Size Matter?

Kinda feels like someone put a billboard through my mail slot. The thing is bigger than my head!

Now after having checked out their website, I do admit that they have a decent sense of humor, but it doesn’t translate to the mailing piece. All it has is…size. Nothing else differentiates it from other direct mail. It’s the same ol’ same ol’…but larger. And their positioning is that smaller direct mail pieces don’t get noticed, so you should buy an ad on this ENORMOUS card.

Except for the fact that the company that produces this IMMENSE card also produces smaller direct mail pieces. So are they admitting that some of their other products are no longer effective?

I should also point out that there is no targeting by any form of demographics or psychographics. They merely send them to every house in the area, addressed to “Local Postal Customer”.

This HUMONGOUS post card is like a radio or television advertiser determining that they have to shout louder and increase the volume in order to stand out from the clutter. Or a store erecting a larger sign, or adding more flashing lights to draw attention.

And now I’ve got this COLOSSAL postcard. And there’s nothing on it to interest me. None of the deals are anything I would ever use. In fact, for one of the restaurants listed, I can get a larger discount by downloading the coupon from their own web site. They paid to offer a lesser deal elsewhere?

Not to mention that the LARGER the postcard, the LARGER the space it takes up in the landfill. Not only does it create more trash, but I might have to wait for my city’s large item pick up day to get rid of it alongside the old dryer that’s sitting in my back yard.

BIGGER doesn’t always mean better. If you need to stand out, don’t get LOUDER. Just be more creative. Back in the day I was on the board and judging panel for the Radio Mercury Awards, which honored creativity in radio advertising. The ads that we chose for these awards were never just louder. They were just plain funny. Or poignant. Or heart tugging. They were creative.

Don’t give in to the temptation to try to out-shout, out-size, and out-glitz the competition.

What other examples have you seen of marketers and advertisers merely trying to be BIGGER and LOUDER? What’s your antidote to the noise?

 

 In Marketing and Advertising, Does Size Matter?
Buffer
30 comments
officerentalsUK
officerentalsUK

Size matters not only with regards to advertising but also with regards to products and packaging. And my conclusion is that the importance of size totally depends on your target market.

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

I actually discuss this on my website a bit. Most advertising/marketing is clutter. The minute a new spot is discovered the brands rush in. There is really few places you can stand out among the clutter. Inside subways cars and other places people refuse to make eye contact. There are those ads on the deoderizing plastic thing at the bottom of mens urinals.

But I use the photo I took of Time Square as my point. 150 Brands all shouting at you and I bet I can't name one of them. Great post Ken!

KirkHazlett
KirkHazlett

I'm reminded of the stereotypical "American tourist" who, when traveling in a country where English isn't the primary means of communication, simply speaks louder when trying to get his/her point across to a "local." Rather than attempt learning basic phrases in the local language, simply make bigger noises!

John_Trader1
John_Trader1

Wait, you don't recycle?

Maybe they are trying some A/B testing with this direct mail monstrosity? Perhaps if this works better, they will pull all of their other smaller postcards from the docket. I agree with you that the key to grab attention is to be more creative, not bigger. Creativity that focuses on relevance mind you, but something that is more personal and speaks more towards what people want to hear not what you think they want to hear.

Interesting touch with the woman karate chopping the old bath on the mailer. Makes me want to sign up for a karate class, not get a new bathroom.

Shonali
Shonali

When I was president of our local IABC chapter, we experimented with larger (not ginormous) postcards for two special events. They worked - but they were also really well-designed (by @annbevans as a matter of fact). Our members were so used to the standard postcards we'd send for event announcements, that these really stood out. So size can work, but it can't be the only differentiator.

TomMahoney
TomMahoney

Well @ken mueller , I kind of agree with you. On the other hand, the thing got your attention, got you to their website, and got you to blog about it. I'd say they got their money's worth out of you.

Latest blog post: The state of computer security

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Howie Goldfarb There is clutter everywhere. All the more reason we need to be more creative. I think anyone can stand out against any of it, IF they are willing to take the time to be creative, which...may cost some money.

This is why I believe quality products backed by strong customer service is your best marketing/advertising tool

GiseleNMendez
GiseleNMendez

@kmueller62 'Ready' doesn't cover it! Now they say it's going to snow so I'm looking forward to it :) Plus, this weekend we have #UFConFox2

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@TheJackB Actually I'm thinking I can fold it into a nice scoop for the cat litter...

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@John_Trader1 It's a printing company. This is their newest thing. In fact, if you go to the company website for the printing company, they don't even mention this product, but mention all of their other services, including regular direct mail. This product has its own site.

And yes, I recycle, but as progressive as my town is, they don't recycle junk mail and paper. Just newspaper. Sad.

And the thing is, they're merely feeding into the mindset of most small businesses. For a small business owner, this probably "makes sense".

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Shonali@annbevans Sounds like yours was targeted to a very specific audience, not just a general mailer. i think that makes a difference. This looks like one of the place mats you see in a diner with ads for a lot of local business. In a diner it may work because your audience is a bit more captive.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@TomMahoney@ken mueller it got my attention but in the wrong way. I still have to throw it out. More trash, and others have said the same thing to me after getting it. I don't know what those folks are paying, so I'd have to get more info on the value for them.

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

@KenMueller I agree 100% Ken. I have been saying a long time great product, great service will trump everything. Advertising can get someone to try something but that is it.

On that note when JC Penny gave their huge account to Saatchi a few years back (2007 I think) they wanted to compete with Macy's. The campaign won awards. But sales didn't grow. I said it was because people walked in and saw the same JC Penny. Now they are going downscale. Amazing how that works.

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

@KenMueller@TheJackB everyone thought it was kryptonite that did Superman in. It was actually tin. And why us aliens used heavy industry lobbying and some Alcoa money to get Aluminum defacto Hat Making Material.

John_Trader1
John_Trader1

@KenMueller Whoops, didn't know that, thanks for clarifying.

What a shame that your town doesn't recycle junk mail and paper which my guess would be the lion's share of the paper items that actually need to be recycled. It's an economic thing, I understand.

CharterHomes
CharterHomes

@KenMueller@Shonali@annbevans We totally tried these mailers! Ken, I actually know exactly which "monster mailers" you're talking about. While we thought they were cool (and price/size was attractive) we didn't put enough thought into how to maximize the space in a clever way and saw no return on the experiment... and now you've got me thinking about ways it could actually work for us if we took it further. Hmm. Design + strategy + the information people need to find out more + call to action, and it might actually have legs.

annbevans
annbevans

@KenMueller@Shonali Thanks for the shout out, Shonali. Ken has a good point. The cards we did, which were just regular jumbo cards, were highly targeted and had a specific call to action and they were pretty (if I do say so myself). It's nice to get the feedback that they were noticed! :)

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@TomMahoney@ken mueller@Shonali Oh, and think how my mailman must feel having to carry around a stack of those with one for every house. That's gotta be annoying both in terms of weight and the awkward size.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@John_Trader1 We lived in a town about 20 minutes away that recycled EVERYTHING. Cereal boxes, cardboard, all paper, etc. Was shocked when we moved to what is considered a very green city and they recycle far less.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@CharterHomes@Shonali The "why" is so important. I had a conversation with a long-time client this morning and mentioned to them that I thought their next step should be to get involved in Pinterest. They had never heard of it, and naturally, they asked "why?". We discussed how their demographic is hardcore obsessed with Pinterest, and I pointed them to blogs from @ginidietrich and others about the platform. And now we're going to create a strong Pinterest presence for each of their 3 different segments, which are going to be rather hyperlocal, and from what I've seen, it will work really well.

CharterHomes
CharterHomes

@KenMueller@Shonali@annbevans Thanks, Ken. ;) Your QR code reference is a great example of a tool becoming a "toy" - no strategy behind it, just, "get one because everyone else is doing it". It's the same strategy behind the ultra large mailer - NEW! DIFFERENT! And all it makes me ask is, why?

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@CharterHomes@Shonali@annbevans What's interesting Kelly, is that I did some research. This is clearly a company that doesn't fully understand social, and yet one of their big selling points on their website, etc. is QR Codes. On the parent company website they tout QR Codes big time and they offer to create QR code campaigns for customers. It's as if they have grabbed on to this one aspect of social while forgetting the rest. If they were smart, they'd be trying to do a better job of delivering an integrated marketing plan, of which the "monster mailer" is just a part.

But knowing you, if anyone can make something like this work...it will be you.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@annbevans@Shonali Thanks for stopping by, Ann. And I want to point out that I'm not necessarily anti-direct mail. But the entire positioning for this product is that it is HUGE and GINORMOUS! They also said that when the mail man delivers it, it's so big that he'll probably have to wrap it around the other direct mail pieces, as if it is "eating" them up...

Previous post:

Next post: