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Letterboxes are a wonderful part of our lives. Every day mine creates a sense of anticipation as I open it to see what surprises are in store. A couple of days ago it served up two very interesting pieces of mail. One is something I wished I’d created myself. The other, sadly, is a complete disaster.

Here they are:

Me Hungry! from Miss Chu the “Queen of Rice Paper Rolls

For those who don’t know, Miss Chu is a fast-growing restaurant chain offering Vietnamese food in a retail “tuck-shop”. The signature food is rice paper rolls, but the menu offers far more choice. There is even a floating tuck-shop on Sydney Harbour, you can check its location via the website.

This is an unaddressed mailing that has a menu inserted into a pair of wooden chopsticks. You cannot avoid reading it when it arrives in your letterbox.

Miss Chu 002

Miss Chu 005

Miss Chu 004

Miss Chu 006

Unlike most take-away menus you get in the mail, this one is jam-packed with everything you need to know and delivers an incredible feeling of authenticity.

There is a postal watermark, that appeared on the hoarding of the tuck-shop as it was being built. It now appears on printed material as well as on the wall in store. The tuck-shop is a crowded hole-in-the wall, just like you’d find in Asia. It serves food for take-away and eat-in.

The mailing promotes the iphone app for easy online ordering. It opens to reveal the menu and an offer of a FREE steamed pork bun for orders over $20. The reverse side has a location mud-map, social media addresses and replicas of Miss Chu’s passport and immigration details. She was apparently a Vietnamese refugee who sailed to Oz on a leaky boat in the 1970’s.

There’s also a passport stamp promoting the awards the restaurants have won, along with the image of Miss Chu that appears to be taken from her original passport photo.

Everything about this mailing works – it is tactile and cannot be ignored, particularly as it uses a simple but relevant involvement device – chopsticks. It has all the information you need to buy – menu with prices, location map, website details and an offer. It’s supported by information about recent awards and it folds up to an easy-to-store size – on your fridge, in a drawer or even a purse.

Most importantly it has charm – one of the keys to getting emotional engagement. I’m going to take up the offer soon – they serve great dumplings. Interestingly, the mailing is so authentic that I’ve typed “she” as if I was referring to the individual Miss Chu while writing this piece. I had to delete “she” and replace it.

The other mailing in my letterbox on the same day as Miss Chu’s was this:

An addressed orange envelope with a card inside

Sadly it is wrong in so many ways – particularly in comparison to Miss Chu’s.

Firstly, while an orange envelope stands out, there is no reason offered to open it. But as I’m an inquisitive sod, I opened it anyway.

Here’s the card – both sides:

Miss Chu 007

Miss Chu 008

Let’s look at the headline – when it comes to changing the game in electricity we mean business.

This headline is just a glib statement. It has no benefit for the reader, is all about the company that wrote it, not about the prospective customer. And it doesn’t even make sense. Changing what game? Electricity isn’t a game – it’s just bloody expensive. If they can provide cheaper electricity why not say so? And a full point at the end of the headline tells the reader to stop reading. Halt! Go no further. (not now, please read on)

The reverse is even worse. The headline is: ERM Business energy is dedicated solely to business electricity. And it’s accompanied by a man with a blue tie on a factory floor without a caption identifying him. It is followed by a subhead; What does this mean? This is followed by; It means we have the experience that matters for small business. (are you getting excited dear reader?)

There is no WIIFM in these statements. What’s In It For Me?

The bullet points don’t help at all. The first, which is usually the most powerful, says: Australian owned with a 30-year history in the energy sector. How does this help me the customer?

The second says: rated #1 for customer satisfaction by big business customers for the past two years. I thought ERM was for small businesses?

The third starts to scrape the bottom of the barrel: Accurate billing designed from the ground up for small business. I would assume that accurate billing is a given. You won’t keep many customers if your invoices are wrong. How difficult is it to send an invoice saying how much electricity a customer has used?

The next two bullet points don’t offer much either.

Unfortunately this communication offers not one reason to use ERM. They’ve given no reasons to switch from existing electricity suppliers. They haven’t identified a problem or how they provide a better service than the one I use now. Even worse, they have invested in renting a list and personalised the envelope, but have not personalised the message inside.

A personal letter from the CEO of ERM addressed to me, explaining in simple terms why their service is better and what value or savings they offer, would have done far more for their sales and brand than this waste of time and money.

Interesting that the humble Miss Chu tuck-shop, which you’d expect has a limited budget, can do a better job than a major energy company with money to burn.

There’s an idea. Maybe ERM should use the rest of their cards as fuel for a power station? Or maybe they should hire Miss Chu to do their marketing?

I’m off to get some dumplings, which is probably why my bride refers to my rippling stomach as a “one-pack” rather than a “six-pack”!

Mmmm dumplings...

Mmmm dumplings…