Bad Marketing? Or Just Poor Judgment?
By Heidi Tolliver-Walker on September 3rd, 2013
The other day I received an email from my father who was at first baffled and then frustrated by a personalized and credible-looking “you’ve been served” letter from a local law firm. Upon closer inspection, it was actually a personalized marketing piece. But it took him until toward the end of the intimidating letter to find that out.
To the firm’s credit, my father did open it. In fact, I’m quite sure the firm got a very high open rate on this piece. But is the potential ill-will that could come from tricking recipients into thinking they’d been served by an attorney worth it? I suppose in that business, it only takes a few conversions for the piece to pay for itself. But wouldn’t positive word of mouth be better? I guess it depends on the type of client you’re looking for.
What would you have advised your client if you’d been the one to print this? Let it go? Or chime in and say something?
I received a rather unsettling envelop yesterday from a [local] law firm—personalized with my name on the “addressed to” portion of the letter inside, printed on their official stationary and letterhead.
It’s an elaborate four pages, folded into a business-sized envelope, complete with the firm’s name in bold on the return address on the front, and my address discreetly printed as would any official letter of contact would be.
It’s was a little unsettling. I didn’t know if I was being sued or what. Did I do something wrong? Am I going to need a lawyer. . . . to respond to these guys? Am I the target of someone? Do they know something I don’t? It looks disturbingly official.
The cover letter inside—on the firm’s official letterhead—however, is quick to say that they’re “introducing themselves” to “me” (my name), and eventually I’m told that they’re proffering a free legal service. But the format gives the appearance of an official contact. Even though I know what it is now, it’s still a little discomforting to look at it—a “fat” package from a legal firm—with my name on it!
It’s taken me a day, actually, to get comfortable enough with it to look at the full four pages. Now that I see what they do, it looks like a genuinely good firm, “serving the interests of [regional] residents, not corporate clients.”Also, beyond the stated purpose of “introducing themselves,” they’re offering a “free Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare” for an hour of my time. But that becomes apparent only two-thirds of the way down into the body of the letter near the end of page 1.
I guess I shouldn’t make too much of the imposing “package” now that I see what it is, except that they might have been more sensitive to how it might at first appear. Maybe a different format other than a multi-page presentation stuffed into an official business envelope, or at least a signal on the outside that it was a friendly “let us introduce ourselves” contact and “your free offer is inside” rather than an official, “you’re being served” notice. My blood pressure went up the instant I took it out of the mailbox! (It’s that feeling you get when a jury-summons appears.)
This is a case of what is probably a good business with good intentions, unintentionally upsetting its recipient. “Surprise! You may need a lawyer!” Repackaging the presentation would have gone a long way toward avoiding the opposite response of what they probably were expecting. I’m assuming they did a blanket mailing to everyone in the area There’s no reason why I should have been on their radar, other than that I have a [local] address.
Just thought of you of course . . . you couldn’t make this up:
Nope! Crazy marketing just happens all by itself. . . with a little help, of course. What would you have done if a client had handed this to you? Good idea or bad idea?