Does Junk Mail Suck?

In his column in the April 2011 issue of DM News (p. 58), Scott Donaton proclaims “junk mail sucks.”

He says our industry is populated by “junk mailers and cheesy infomercial pitches.”

He asks the question, “Why does so much of what we’ve defined as direct marketing suck?”

Donaton states that “most pieces of direct mail are poorly designed, off-target messages easily separated into a trash file without a second glance.”

“Some of these mailbox missives move past irrelevance and inch close to the border of sleazy.” He gives as examples mailings that say “last notice” and those that try to look official.

He threatens us direct marketers, saying that they must “face my wrath as I tear [the mailers] into pieces and sprinkle them with curses before sending them down the garbage chute.” (What? Scott Donaton won’t respond to my latest DM package? I am trembling in my boots.)

Donaton is just as critical of direct response TV, saying “most of it is insulting drivel with the production values of a middle school holiday singalong.” He particularly doesn’t like the repetition of the toll-free number in the commercials.

I think Donaton is an idiot. Or at least that his opinions are idiotic.

Your thoughts?


832 thoughts on “Does Junk Mail Suck?

  • I think DM News sucks. It was the first thing I read…I tossed the rest of issue into the garbage unread.

    Donaton had no facts or proof, just his opinions. Why would the editors publish some guy’s personal rant? Are they just “trolling” for controversy? If so, DM News is on the same level as a sleazy gossip tabloid. You stay classy, DM News and Scott Donaton.

    Somehow I get DM News for free each month…so maybe I’m not the target audiance. Because there is no way I would pay to to read those who hate direct marketing in a magazine which sells to direct marketers.

  • Now I remember why I didn’t renew my subscription. It’s our (direct marketer’s) version of People magazine. Though I do miss it on occasion, because its articles were great fodder for my blog.

  • One must assume Mr. Donaton has never sold anything in his life, especially via direct response. If he ever had, he would realize that you use techniques that consistently work. What’s he looking for? “Orginality’? That’s the most dangerous word in ALL advertising. That word means to try things that are un-tested.
    I suggest to Mr. Donaton, that before he is critical of the campaigns he sees, he should post his success record against mine and others who are willing to put their money where there mouths are.
    I’m discouraged to see a long time publication like DM publish such drivel. I wish Capels and Ogilvy were still alive to rip into him.

  • Actually–he’s right! I read the direct mail I get and 90% of it is…

    1. Replete with rookie mistakes–like asking questions to which the target doesn’t know the answer
    2. Dry and corporate–would not motivate a drug addict to get another hit
    3. Lacking in any type of even decent offer
    4. Monochromatic
    5. Put together by people or companies with little DM know-how
    6. Incorrectly targeted…why am I getting a post card for a restaurant that’s 10 miles away?
    7. Brand-centric and not written to produce a response.

    So…yes…the guy is right. At least when it comes to most the mail that comes through my mailbox.

    I blog about this when examining Google’s latest direct mail piece.

  • From the context of his article, one can assume Mr. Donaton had some sort of awful experience directly (no pun intended) with direct marketing.

    With that being said, going on a rant and publish it on a magazine is kind of bush-league, borderline high-school newspaper. That is what personal blogs are for, so go and rant over there.

    I believe junk mail DOES suck when it is sent to the wrong target audience. Remember, this is still money that you, as a business owner, are spending to market your product. You should do it towards the right audience.

  • I think Donaton is a sad, strange little man, who needs to:

    a. Brush up on his 7 habits and Think and Grow Rich principles.

    b. Stop writing for the DM trade journals. Now!

    c. Find an angry, liberal and left leaning; (read; anti-capitalism) publication to write for. I think Worker’s World is accepting submissions at this time.

  • I think it’s because direct marketers are not using good strategies to get their business across their target market. They use email as a way to touch base but many of their audience think they are just spamming them. That’s why they go to their junk mail.

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