Why Seed Names Are Important to Your Mailings
Who is Travis Bickel? Heard of Nelson Brittles? How about Blanche DuBois? Well, these are all fictional characters from movies, TV as well as stage and screen. They represent my short list of seed names that I use in all my direct-mail marketing campaigns for my nonprofit mailings. Seed names are those names and full address’ of people who are inserted at random by your data house or at the personalization mailer and adds them into both your test and house files. One should also assign them with a specific code attached to them that identifies them to you or your associates as “fake names, not to be confused with Fake News.”
Why Fake Names?
Adding fake names with real addresses provides to you and your client(s) a much better idea of when your mailing has arrived at its destination. This will give you a significant vision of when the phone calls to your 800 number will be overwhelming or underwhelming your call center or your sales teams. It’s always good to seed your name with friends known both across the country and maybe some international locations as well. Then your friend calls you up and tells you that the package arrived safely and not damaged or nearly destroyed by the post office (don’t laugh—it happens to the best and meticulous of mailing houses and postal locations). You or your client should also record this arrival of the seed names, so you can also track how long this mailing took, versus previous or future mailings take, to arrive at their destination.
You have also invested significant expenses getting your mailing campaign kit designed, printed and mailed out properly and give it the best chance of success. You placed your faith into your designer, as well as vendors that has assured you that they put enough glue in the envelope to hold and seal it together and enable it to go through a hundred different types of gyrations to get to these seed name locations. Seeding your mailings and having them arrive home safely to you provide for solid knowledge that the package was received in a reasonable time period and in good or better conditions. You can now look at your mailing and use those vital nine seconds to decide to open and read the kit, or offer it to a friend to respond or worse, throw away. You can now perceive your mailing from your donor’s point-of-view. Does this kit need for me to open and donate now? Is my friend or neighbor more passionate about this cause or organization that needs help, or do I just want to throw it away?
Seeding your mailing list also protects your own house and test files from abuse. Many times, lists are also seeded with the list owner(s) own seed names to ensure that the list rental bargain or agreement was for one-time or multiple uses. If you see your seed names coming back to you from some other mailing, then you need to contact them directly about the use of your own list that is outside the terms of your own list exchange or arragements. Seeding your mailing lists provides you with a tracking device that informs you when your mailing is delivered to your donor address, you can track and alert your call center to be active and ready, and you can see how well or badly designed your package was handled by a multitude of savage handlers.
After receiving your seed kit, now is a good time to review your kit to see how you can improve and make the kit more pleasing to the eye, which would entice your test or house donors to open it and respond back to you in a variety of means that you offered to them. Were the kits damaged or distressed in some way? And if so, where would that fault be placed? The envelope vendor, the mailing house or the Postal Service? Hopefully, no damage was suffered, and you still get a good opportunity to adjust your designs for future mailings.
You should know that Travis Bickel, played by Robert DeNiro, was in the movie “Taxi Driver.” John Wayne played Colonel Nelson Brittles in the John Ford Cavalry triology of films. And who is Blanch DuBois? She was played by many female characters in the films and stage versions of “A Streetcar named Desire.” You can come up with your own names—ones that truly mean seed names to you. Happy Mailing.
James E. Sullivan is the project director of Optic Nerve Digital Direct Marketing. Reach him at email@example.com.