Sometimes it pays to look outside your normal circle of peers for inspiration. Here’s a postcard I received recently from the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife. What do fishing licenses have to do with B2B demand generation? Not much. But the very fundamental direct marketing principles on display here (beautifully executed, I might add) are lessons we can all take to heart, whether we’re selling software or sport fishing.
1. Don’t underestimate the visual impact of a) children and b) animals.
2. Action-oriented headline (“Share”). In just a few concise words, this headline is both benefit-oriented (“last a lifetime”) but also drives the reader to action.
3. Clear, prominent call to action. (“Buy your fishing license today.”)
4. If the average technology marketing manager had written this copy, it would have begun:
“As a parent, you understand the value of time with your child. In today’s fast-paced home life of soccer practices, video games, and MTV, parents are finding opportunities for true quality time harder to come by, especially in outdoor activities. However, even a few precious moments spent outside with your son or daughter can build memories that will last a lifetime. And the graphics are AWESOME.”
Too often, tech marketers rely on plodding introductory copy intended to “set up” the selling message. Fuhgeddaboudit! Just get to the point for pete’s sake, as the writer does here (“Catch a little time … together.”)
5. The objective of this campaign is not to convince people to go fishing, or why fishing is fun, or to build brand awareness for the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife. It’s to sell fishing licenses. Every word of the copy drives the reader to that desired action. Nothing is wasted. Note the consistent use of action-oriented verbs: Catch, Get back, Renew, Buy.
6. Clear, prominent call to action, with several options provided for convenience (but all with the same offer.)
7. Mailing information incorporated creatively into the direct mail layout. Most postcards leave a jarring, blank white space for the address block and barcode. Here the designer weaved that white space seamlessly into the design.
(If anyone from the DFW is reading this, I’ll buy my license soon. Promise.)
Thanks Howard. I laughed out loud when I read number 4, I couldn’t agree more.
indeed a very good example of lead generation with a postcard. Thank you for pointing it out.
By the way: Dead fish aren’t the animals i would have expected to have that visiual impact. 😉
Excellent insight, excellent example.
It looks so simple, but your bullets point out the fine details.
Howard, thanks for sharing this! It certainly has all the qualities you point out.
As another, I would add the powerful tagline and corresponding URL “Take Me Fishing.” It’s shorter and yet more specific than the “Share a Pastime That Can Last a Lifetime,” which sounds good but could apply to anything.
I.e., to me, ironically the “share a pastime…” isn’t a strong enough “hook” (haha).
The copy *should* be giving meat to the “Take Me Fishing” tagline and the approach it takes doesn’t quite do that.
In fact, it doesn’t even support the “share a pastime…” concept. So you might have caught a fish a few times when you were a kid…if it were *really* a big deal, if you really *loved* it, you would have kept doing it. The pastime for *you* didn’t last a lifetime, did it?
So there’s a big jump between remembering something you may have done a few times and all of a sudden *actively* choosing to invest in that activity (via a fishing license).
Instead of “get back to the fun” the copy should use its limited space communicating what that fun *is*…what’s *unique* about fishing for those who want to give the best to their kids. Making the reader feel *why* “Take Me Fishing” should be their (and their kids’) rallying cry.
Thanks again for sharing!
Your first point, “1. Don’t underestimate the visual impact of a) children and b) animals.”, reminds me of watching America’s Funniest Home Videos.
My children love that show and we make a game out of guessing who will win out of the top 3 videos selected. I always tell them, “Don’t bet against babies and puppies”.
Great article! Thanks so much for sharing.
Children are nice, babies are even nicer. And animals, they really give comfort to the viewers. Very comprehensive article.
And oh yah right, dead fish is not a good publication of an animal. I prefer rather a lively cat or a dog.