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Things That Don’t Scale

Published by Jeff Giddens

A few days ago, Darrin Clark and/or Eddie Everette dropped this in my mailbox.

I get a ton of junk mail and a ton of direct mail appeals, and usually sift through it and trash it pretty quickly. But this stood out. The paper was oddly cut, it was obviously handwritten and compared to everything else, it was somewhat crude. I loved it. It stands out from the rest of the mail (which often misspells my name) — and it’s not even addressed to me. They don’t know who I am, but I know a lot about them from this. They are obviously willing to hustle and put forth effort — they had to write a bunch of these, walk house to house and put them up. If I call them, I have a 50% shot of knowing who I am talking to.

This type of marketing doesn’t scale well at all. It takes a lot of time, effort, sweat, and isn’t perfect. But it worked on me because it stood out. I threw away a handful of direct mail appeals without even opening them. They were personalized, probably followed best practices, and did everything you are supposed to do. But they weren’t human.

Granted, I’m a sample size of one. But it’s a good reminder — sometimes things that don’t scale can be extremely effective.

Things that don't scale

Published by Jeff Giddens

Jeff was the 1994 Georgia State Spelling Bee champion.