Received an envelope yesterday; a mailing from a business publication. On the outside, in red type, it had a large SECOND NOTICE, in a style that made it look as if it had been rubber stamped onto the envelope. It looked very official.
When you opened the envelope, you found out that it was literally correct. It was indeed a second notice. But not a notice of a past due billing problem. It was their second notice that they were trying to get you to become a subscriber.
Now, they did get me to open the envelope, which I assume was their intent. But they also got me to promise myself I would never order a magazine that used such a sneaky way of getting my attention. (Did the magazine actually create the mailing piece? I don't know. Did they approve it? Absolutely yes.)
Sure, it's a little thing. A few words on the outside of an envelope. But by choosing the wrong words, it succeeded in creating a negative image of the magazine for me. Certainly not their intent.
I know that comments will come in, or at least they will when people actually start reading this blog, that the mailing had probably been tested and this SECOND NOTICE approach had outscored others that were tested. I agree that they may get a better response rate. But how do you measure ill will?
It is usually good to put some words on the outside of your mailing piece. Make them relevant, make them attention-getting, make them provocative. But do not make people feel fooled and foolish if the words induce them to open the piece and discover they have been tricked.