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Posted: January 7th, 2012 | Author: | 3 Comments »

I get a lot of junk mail. The people who lived in my apartment before me get even more. And I can’t remember the last time I opened any of it1. There’s a stack of it sitting here in front of me, on its way to the garbage: credit card offers, checking account offers, dog food catalogs (for one of the previous tenants), clothing catalogs, and something about bird feeders. The bird feeder one was addressed to my father but ended up here anyways, either because of a mistake at the Post Office or the bird feeder company — or maybe he’s trying to tell me that I need more birds in my life. It’s not gonna happen, dad: there’s no way I’m even thumbing through it.

I have the Internet. I don’t need more unsolicited reading material. So most of the junk isn’t even going to be skimmed out of curiosity. And I don’t touch credit card offers, because I don’t need another credit card company trying to pay for things for me.

The ones that worry me are the offers from my own bank. They arrive daily, and I get fooled sometimes, because what if it actually *is* important? And when it inevitably isn’t, it annoys me. It feels like I’ve fallen for some sort of trick. I don’t like falling for tricks.

If you’re a company and you want to get in touch with me, sending me something is the mail is probably the way to go. For whatever reason, paper mail carries more weight: someone printed it out, folded it up, stamped their fake signature on it (and paid like, what, a buck for it? I haven’t bought stamps in a while…). I get a serious piece of mail and I can tell that there’s something behind it; it takes more effort than an email, so they’re probably not doing it for nothing. But there’s a whole “Boy Who Cried Wolf” thing when I get a hundred “Important Account Information” letters a week, and none of them have anything to do with anything I consider “important.”

I’ve stopped opening “Important Account Information” letters.

I doubt I’m alone on this.

So here’s what I propose: Let’s be honest up front. If you’re sending me an offer for something, let me know. Hey, maybe I want that interest free credit card or that impossibly low mortgage rate2. If I do, and you’re writing to me about it, that’s something I want to know. Don’t leave me guessing as I try not to destroy the envelope with my kludgy fingers. But if I’m not looking for that offer, don’t try to trick me into opening it anyways. I feel like tricking someone isn’t the best way to begin a financial relationship.

Try putting this on the outside of the envelope:

I don’t know, word it however you’d like, break it up into as many categories as you’d like, make it more colorful. But show me when you really *need* me to read something and when it’s something that I might only be interested in. I’m going to make that decision anyways, so why annoy me in the process?

What’s the worst that could happen? I’d stop opening your junk mail?

1) Er, ahem: I can’t remember the last time I opened any of *mine*… I’ve never opened any of the previous neighbors’ mail…
2) ATTN: MORTGAGE COMPANIES: I am not interested in an impossibly low mortgage.

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