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Mediation Marketing and Direct Mail: A Note to Geoff Sharp

Dear Geoff,

I’m up in the middle of the U.S. night with the sniffles and what better way to spend the time but musing, learning and reading. I saw your blog post inviting me to comment on direct mail as a mediation marketing tool and suddenly, Sleepless in Southern NH had the chance to be productive!

So thank you in three ways: For allowing me to spend the night with you (what will my sweet Rodney think when he reads this…that I’ve taken too much cold medicine?), for giving me the opportunity to get my thoughts in order about direct marketing, and for the chance to create fodder that my fellow mediation marketing bloggers can build on and/or disagree with!

I’m going to respond to your question (”Any lessons for mediators here?“) from the perspectives that I bring to the mediation marketing conversation: That some traditional marketing approaches feel uncomfortable for mediators and discomfort leads to inaction, and that cost-effective (which doesn’t always mean free or cheap, of course!) tools are what my readership seeks.

Here’s what’s potentially worthwhile about the direct marketing pieces you received:

  • They got your attention because there was, assumedly, something these two did differently from all the other direct marketing campaigns sitting in your mailbox. Pretty stamps. Personalized sticky note. You found it remarkable enough to blog about it, right? Attention means you look at them for at least a few seconds longer than all the other junk mail and maybe, just maybe, like something you see. A lot of marketing these days seems to be about getting “eyeball time.”
  • If they did their job right, they sent you information that was specifically targeted at your interests and not a vague fishing expedition. You might not have taken a second glance if the marketing piece tried to sell you, say, holiday ham distribution services for your employees.
  • At least one of the pieces spoke to your ego in a subtle way. Who but a successful professional can choose to be measured for a tailor-made suit? The piece essentially says this: We know you’re successful, Geoff…don’t you want to convey that to everyone else, too?

Here’s what turns me off about bulk direct marketing postal mail in general:

  • For new mediators starting out and for those on shoestring budget, direct mail can be a bit of an investment, particularly if you don’t yet have a well-developed mailing list and decide to buy from those mailing list-building services.
  • And speaking of mailing list-building services, save your money. I haven’t found too many small service business owners in our world who’ve found them worthwhile investments. Build your list in other effective ways like those I outlined in #5 of this e-zine article and in this overview of permission marketing.
  • For some mediators, direct mail feels too much like—ugh, prepare yourself—selling. Done right, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, but I can understand the sentiment because so much of what ends up on my doorstep goes straight to the recycling can with nary a glance.
  • Even “personalized” direct mail, like “hand written” sticky notes are still bulk mail. I know machines produce it and it doesn’t quite give me that warm, fuzzy feeling it gave me 15 years ago when I first noticed that gimmick.
  • I’m pretty disinterested in contributing to the paper production waste stream, not to mention all the scary things that go into glossy print products. I don’t know about you, Geoff, but a lot of my client base thinks similarly.
  • I don’t like to be sold holiday hams…I’m a vegetarian and wonder just how good a job a marketing department has done when I get mail like that after 25 years of no meat. What a waste.

All that said, Geoff, there’s one thing that really stood out—in a good way—in the second sample (for readers who haven’t seen Geoff’s post yet, it’s the sample in the image above). But this post is sooo long already, I’m going to write about it in a second post which I’ll put up soon.

So, in closing, Geoff, I’m guessing you asked the question because you believe there are lessons here for mediators. What lessons do you see?

Warm regards and sniffles, my friend.


Tammy Lenski

Dr. Tammy Lenski helps individuals, pairs, teams, and audiences navigate disagreement better, address friction, and build alignment. Her current work centers on creating the conditions for robust collaboration and sound decisions while fostering resilient personal and professional relationships. Her conflict resolution podcast and blog, Disagree Better, are available at… MORE >

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