You’ve got mail! what have I learnt from my junk mail?


May 13, 2013 by Sian Rowland

We get a lot of junk unsolicited mail through the door every day so I decided to collect it for a week. Before you start wondering if I’ve finally lost the plot, it’s all in the name of research. My business partner and I have been thinking a lot about marketing recently and one of the ways we market is via mail-shot. It’s not quite in the league of junk mail that comes through your door but it got me thinking about the sort of mail I receive which I’ve divided into groups.

Seventeen pieces of unsolicited pieces of mail came through my letter box this week. That’s pretty light for round here but in the interests of fairness I’ve stuck with the last seven days.

Unsolicited mailshots have a pretty low return on sales but have been proven to raise awareness of your business. It may take 5-8 times before you convert interest into business, hence the repetitive nature of most mailshots! Here is this week’s haul:

This week's haul.

Charity clothes bags


Read? No. used? No.

I don’t trust these bags. If I have items to give to charity I’ll pop them round to the charity shop I choose. These rely on our laziness in getting rid of rubbish. If you put out the empty bag, they say, on the correct day they’ll take it away. They never do. Ever. You’re left with plastic bags collecting on the front step or fluttering off down the street.

Lesson: don’t offer to do something that you have no intention of doing.



Read? Some. Used: no.

Only four menus this week which is unusually low. The letterbox is usually as full as a stuffed crust on Fridays and Saturdays. Three were for pizza parlours, one was for Chinese. I skimmed and recycled.

Lesson: I read the menu that looked posher than the offers. When in doubt go olive green and ditch the cheese-filled photos, ragazzi.

Estate agent flyers


Read? Yes. Used: no.

I don’t usually read estate agent blurbs as they’re too pushy but these three flyers seemed to be a new breed. They were printed on quality card with good photos and talked about lifestyle. I’m not in the market for house selling but if I was I’d keep these.

Lesson: stop with the push and appeal to the lifestyle choice.

Taxi cards

Sorry, you get my thumb with this one. No free advertising!

Sorry, you get my thumb with this one. No free advertising!

Read? No. used: no.

We get endless cards and they usually get stuck in the letterbox so I have to fish them out in handfuls when nothing else will fit in. I’m annoyed before I even start looking.

Lesson: You’re not offering anything different or better. Recycle.

Free newspaper


Read: Yes. Used: N/A

I love a free newspaper but this one has a problem: it’s the Lambeth Post and I don’t live in Lambeth. Therefore all the council-related info is irrelevant to me, the articles are usually about places too far from me to care about that much and the advertised services aren’t local. Local residents have appealed to the newspaper that serves the borough to ask if we could have a copy delivered. They said they can’t find anyone to deliver it. Yet their rival can. Good on ‘em for trying but it’s waste of everyone’s time really.

Lesson: pitch your business to people who are in the right market for it.


Frozen food flyer: Nope not for me. We shop at the supermarket that rhymes with piddle and we’re happy with it.

Furniture brochure: I had a flick through but it ended up in the recycling.

Network Rail info: this informed me that the works at my local station have finished and the road is now open. Hurrah! Relevant. I’ll make an effort to visit the shops that lost their passing trade while the works were on.

So I’ve learnt that if I’m sending out a mailshot it needs to be relevant, sent to the right people, do what it says it will do, make an offer, look classy and enhance lifestyle.

Oh and olive green is the future.


7 thoughts on “You’ve got mail! what have I learnt from my junk mail?

  1. It’s hard enough coping with my own junk mail without seeing someone else’s too!

  2. OK here’s some unrequested (rather than unsolicited) feedback.
    1.If you don’t want unsolicited mail join “Mail preference service”
    – a free service that supports your right to get only the mail you want. It does help!

    2. I have a sticker on my letter box – and that has helped too. There are lots to choose from and you can print them out for yourself.

    3. Stick a recycling bin on your front door dstep and request that unaddressed items are left in there….Then you can at least carry it straight to your recycling bin.

    4. Having worked successfully on a freelance basis for the past 15 years my work came from recommendations of colleagues, winning tenders and via my website. Never once from leafleting.

    5. The only mail-outs I would do would be to named people in specific organsations. My thinking on this is that I wouldn’t employ someone to work for me without references and/or recommendations.

    6. Now that I’m 63 I’m very grateful for my teaching, NHS and Government pensions…which, by the way, I paid into for years and years and years…….

    PS I really enjoy your blogs.

    • Sian Rowland says:

      Wise words as always, Lesley. The trouble with all the rules about marketing is of course that they don’t apply to schools! word of mouth is always good but as a business we’re starting to bring in clients schools who don’t know us directly, hence the discussions around marketing. we’re always looking to expand!

    • Yes to 1 and 2. They do work.

  3. scribedoll says:

    Spot on.

    I always wonder at people who put the sign “no JUNK mail” on their front doors. I always wonder if, legally, it has any standing, since one could argue that JUNK is a subjective term. Others put “no UNSOLICITED mail”, but then bills and official letters aren’t exactly cried out for. I wonder if “no PROMOTIONAL printed matter” would work… :–)

  4. Millie says:

    Brilliant idea Sian – love it 🙂

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