Two different promotions. Two different products. One marketing tactic. Maybe these marketers are onto something. They are, and it’s something we can use.
In the space of one week, two promotions arrived in my mailbox. One was for a collection of uncirculated coins. It came in a snap-pack envelope (the kind with the perforated edge that you pull off to open) with all the markings of a special delivery business mailing. It talked about the coins and included a reservation certificate, which was of course an order form. What really stood out, though, was the heading “Notice of item on hold.” The letter went on to explain, “This is a 10-day hold. After this 10-day period, we will be forced to regard the item as unclaimed.”
The second promotion was for a collection of leather-bound books. It came in an envelope with special-delivery markings and the label, “photo mailer.” Inside were photos of the books. The letter explained that “Our records show 1 (one) unclaimed genuine leather-bound Collector’s Edition of Huckleberry Finn being held in your name.” Here we had the “unclaimed item” approach again. This promotion went a bit further, though. It included an official-looking claim tag with instructions on how to claim the item (“simply affix your Claim Tag sticker to your Reservation Card and return it before January 31.”).
You might be thinking that this “item on hold” approach isn’t new, and you’d be right. It isn’t. But, then again, offers like “buy one get one free” aren’t new, and, be honest, how many times have they worked on you?
Fact is, these tried-and-true approaches work, and you can’t deny that the psychology of “item on hold” is interesting. These promotions both presented me with an item that’s virtually in my hands now. It’s really already mine. The little matter of actually paying for it is positioned as nothing more than a technicality. What’s more, in a clever bit of reframing, I don’t even have to go through the trouble of ordering the item. I simply have to claim it.
But before you dismiss “item on hold” as just another schlocky direct mail trick, take a moment to consider how you could use this approach in marketing your product or service. It’s worth thinking about, because this tactic could be adapted to a variety of B2B or consumer products or services – for example …
· Novell updates – our records show unclaimed software updates available for you now.
· Acme Industries’ new white paper – Social Media Strategies for Lead Generation – is on hold for you now, pending your acceptance.
· There’s a new Dell Inspiron laptop on hold for you – claim it now and receive a free keyboard!
· Our service team is holding a maintenance certificate for the 5,000-mile oil change for your BMW 3-Series. To claim it simply respond now.
· Notice of Unclaimed iphone Ap! The new Starbucks-finder ap is on hold now for you – just text “I want coffee” to claim it.
· The July introductory issue of Investor’s Monthly is ready to deliver to you, pending your approval – claim this valuable investing intelligence now.
Borrowing this tactic just might erode some sales resistance and create an opening for your product or service. Or, as a jumping-off point for brainstorming, it might lead to another solution that creates sales or lead generation opportunities. At the very least, it’s worth testing with your product and your audience. You never know – it just might work.