I received a letter yesterday that was very obviously a piece of junk mail. It was sealed in a very familiar plain white envelope and was sent by someone who, as usual, would rather not identify their business or brand on the envelope.
But what actually stood out on this letter was the return address - The return address was only a couple blocks away, a highly unusual trait for most of the junk mail I receive. So I opened this one to discover that it was from a State Farm insurance salesmen with an office down the street and then, without hesitation, I threw it away.
I thought about the letter later and wondered why any brand would not identify itself on the envelope. I wondered why marketers would think anyone would listen to their message if they are first not proud enough to tell people who saying it?
So a quick Google search and I got my explanation from a Mr. Craig Huey, who according to his own bio, is one of the world's leading experts in direct response marketing. His website provides tips and insight on how to send people stuff they didn't ask for.
Tip number two says "Don't Give Yourself Away with a Return Address." According to Huey, "the very first thing your prospect will look at on your envelope is the return address; therefore, it’s always best to put just an address without a company name. This way, any preconceived notions your prospects may have about your company will not prevent them from reading your entire sales message before making up their minds. Important: Always list a street address—never a PO box."
First of all, Huey's tip makes a very large assumption that people will open a letter and read the entire message before throwing it away. Evidenced by my letter from State Farm, it was in the trash once I solved the mystery of who actually sent it.
Secondly, the fact that a business won't first identify themselves reinforces the notion that people have about junk mail itself... it's junk! Their message, whatever it may be, is not at all important or relevant because they immediately know that it's not coming from someone with whom they already have a relationship.
But for all the junk mail marketers, what better way is there to begin that relationship than proving to the prospect that you're willing to waste their valuable time and attention without ever receiving permission first, right?