Nothing beats a vanilla direct mailer. So, when you come up with intriguing, flashy ideas for your snail-mail flyer, you’re excited to share them with your customers.

However, no matter how great the idea is, or how awesome it may look, if the execution is lacking, it makes your business look tacky.

I recently received what could’ve been a great piece of direct mail from a local HVAC contractor. It was a refrigerator magnet detailing the Detroit Tigers’ 2014 home schedule. I was excited when I got it, because, hey, who isn’t excited when they get something that can be extremely useful at home or at work for free. I’ll gladly look at a company’s logo, a manufacturer’s logo, and the company’s prominently underlined and bolded phone number to have a handy schedule for the local ball club.

But, upon a second glance at this magnetic trinket, I realized quickly that while it was a great idea, it was poorly executed. Here are some of the reasons why:

First, it’s only a home schedule. I know baseball’s a long season, and 162 games may take up a lot of space, but what’s the point of sending something out that only has half of the games on it? Not to mention, this arrived in my mail in May. The season started in April. So now I have something that only lists half the games and I got it at a time when most interested fans have already acquired a pocket schedule in some form or fashion. Did I miss a separate mailing of the road schedule magnet? Perhaps the company intends to send that out in June?

As a potential customer, I’m thinking: If I can’t trust you to be on time with a magnet schedule, which, in all reality, is a pretty easy piece of marketing to put together, how can I trust you to be on time if I call you over to my home?

Next, in actually going over the schedule, there were multiple errors. I had no idea there was a MLB team named the “Royal.” Now, I know of the Kansas City Royals, but I’ve never seen the Tigers play the Royal.

What’s worse, Royals is spelled correctly when they roll into Detroit later on the schedule. There’s also inconsistency with the White Sox. At one point, the schedule identifies the team as the “White sox” and then, later on, the team is correctly deemed the White Sox.

As a potential customer, I’m thinking: If you can’t even get simple team names correct, how can your company perform an expansive and exhaustive installation correctly? And, if you say, “Well, our marketing company did that,” I’d note, ‘that’s your company name on the magnet.’ Please tell me why you didn’t bother to provide oversight on a product that’s flagged with your name on it. To me, this suggests a lack of quality control, which, as a customer, is a major red flag.

Finally, and this one annoyed me, but why am I receiving a piece of mail from a local company here in southeastern Michigan that has a return address in Georgia? I would think, as a small business, you’d do everything you can to protect your local ties. I know this is being done with a marketing firm, but how hard would it have been to use the contractor’s address as the return address on this? Perhaps the company was more concerned with saving a buck by using the Georgia-based company. They certainly wouldn’t cut corners to save a buck on my air conditioner, right?

I’m sure this company’s intentions were good, but the execution on this, something simple, really makes me think this company does not have its stuff together. Do it right, or don’t do it at all.

First impressions are critical. This company managed to turn something with so much promise into a complete and utter failure. I live two miles from their business and it’s very unlikely I’d ever give them a call.

For many people, creative pieces of direct mail could be a customer’s first — and likely only — opportunity to get a feel for what your company is all about. If you’re interested in saving a buck, perhaps cut your paycheck — don’t do it on behalf of future business.

Publication date: 6/16/2014

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