Drawing Attention to Your Cause
When experts advise against the use of humor, I’m actually in partial agreement. As direct marketers, we’re trained to do certain things that work against us when applied to the use of humor.
One of the worst mistakes you could make is to treat the cartoon as a branding element or a device to express an offer. The cartoon needs to focus entirely on the identity of the recipients and what is true for them. It should never be about your brand or the great deal you’re about to offer them. That’s true for any mailing, in any mission.
When my company created the control for The New Yorker, we never mentioned subscribing, newsstand savings or the like. We just put the reader in the middle of a typical, whimsical New Yorker cartoon. We understood why the audience loves the magazine and gave them a big dose of it. Along the way, we delighted recipients into helping us beat the previous control.
The same principle applied when we launched the four-wave campaign for Sandoz Pharmaceuticals that resulted in a doubling of sales for its product. We appealed to the audience of pharmacists in a way that motivated it to respond, request information and, eventually, recommend the client’s product to its customers. And we never once mentioned the product, offer or price advantage in the series of cartoons. Instead, we focused on the pharmacist and his or her devotion to doing what’s best for customers.
How do you know if a particular cartoon is on target to produce exceptional results in your campaign? Put it to the “Refrigerator Door Test.” Ask yourself, “Is this cartoon likely to be kept on the recipient’s refrigerator door?” If not, you have somehow compromised the value of the cartoon to the recipient. And that most often is the result of improper focus.