Monday, July 19, 2010

Note to Direct Marketers: Ominous Statements Do Not Work

The Small Business division of Verizon really wants my company to upgrade our service with them.

I know this because it seems like not a week goes in which I don't get a letter from Verizon asking me to call them about their new "upgraded service options."

Recently, the envelopes have new language on them:
"Service Update: Second Notice."
Today's was at least the third time I've received such a letter from Verizon.

I keep looking at the envelope, and then tossing the letter without opening it.

Does Verizon truly think that sending letters that look and sound (from the outside) like their dunning me for past-due payment is a good way to entice me to purchase more services for them?

I'm sure the letter promises great improvements on my service options -- whatever those are. And that these new, wonderful and useful service options will provide some sort of benefit to my business.

But just think: I get these letters marked "Second Notice" from Verizon, and I haven't even signed up for more services. If this is what I can expect when they want me to upgrade, what kind of tone and language can I expect if I actually do sign up?

I don't need Verizon to nag me. Especially when I take care of what I would think is more important to them: paying their invoices on time.

Yeah, I may be missing out on new service upgrades that will unlock the key to the universe (which Bruce Springsteen once said he found in the engine of an old parked car).

But in this economy, I think you want to be associated with something positive and aspirational. These repeated letters from Verizon -- which, among other things, shows they can't count, because it's been at least seven notices over all -- are tone deaf and offensive at a time when so many people and businesses face economic difficulties. Would a gym send a letter to customers to get them to increase their membership levels, addressed "Dear Fatty?"

Then why send a letter that basically conveys, "Dear Deadbeat"?

Does Verizon really think that this is a way to get more customers to upgrade? As Don Rickles might say, "Hello, Dummy!"

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