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Victor Urbina’s Minding Your Business: The Big Empty

White space is wasted space. I was taught this early in my career by my mentor. When you market you have to use every piece of real estate that’s made available to you. The “cool” ads that use very little copy are a HUGE waste of money.

Salesmanship In Print

Think of it this way. Would you send your best salesman into a selling situation and tell them to only say 100 words to make the sale Absolutely not! You would want him to say as much as it took to get the sale. THEN shut up. Because there is such a thing as talking yourself out of a sale.

John E. Kennedy said it best when he coined the phrase “advertising is salesmanship in print.” Yes, certain types of advertising allow you to clone yourself. To talk to hundreds of prospects every day.

To make your best “pitch.” So why do so many businesses insist on doing it wrong? Let me give you an example.

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

I get a lot of mail. I think I’ve mentioned that before. I do it so I can see what other people are doing, to grow my “swipe” file. Because I get so much mail I’m exposed to a lot of different types of direct mail. Some great, some in need help.

This piece from Bush’s Chicken falls on the “needs help” side of the spectrum.

bush1 First, let me tell you what they did right. Above is a picture of the back side of the postcard. The first thing you’ll notice is that this is an oversized postcard.

This is great. It sticks out when mixed with other mail. And depending on your mailbox, it might keep it from closing properly. Again, great job here.

They cut through the mailbox clutter and grabbed my attention with their size.

The next thing they did well on this piece is they didn’t use a huge logo.

Instead they used a logo size that made sense and tucked it away in the lower left corner. They focused on their coupons, but didn’t give away branding altogether.

A big mistake I see here is huge logos for unknown companies. Repeat after me, “No one cares about your logo!”

The next positive goes hand-in- hand with their logo. They clearly displayed their location address.

They did it also in a unassuming way at the bottom of the piece so it wouldn’t detract from the coupons. You’d be surprised how many inexperienced mailers forget to include contact information.

Picture This

Another plus is the image they used. The picture of their hash browns and breakfast sandwich are enticing if you’re hungry. The cup of coffee is a nice touch because it shows what a breakfast meal would look like.

Again, they didn’t make the image the focus of the mail out. If I could change one thing about the image is make the sandwich the focal point of the photo, not the coffee. But, I’ve saved the two best parts of this piece until the end.

The mail out does something else well, it has a variety of coupons. The reason this is a good tactic is that it give the piece a longer life “shelf life.” Postcard offers are usually “one-and- done.”  You use the coupon or you throw it away.

This postcard has five opportunities to make the sale with the five coupons.

Extra Points & The Best Part

Extra points for the variety of coupons and for drawing "cut lines" around each of them.”Cut lines” are often overlooked and left out, but they tell people to cut out the coupons. Some people won’t do that if there’s no “cut lines.”But this isn’t even the best part.

The best part of the mail out is the coupon for the FREE small coffee. Yep, that one offer will get more people into the door than anything else they could’ve done. Why? Because people LOVE free.

I have another postcard that I’m going to share later that capitalizes on the free strategy. So I won’t go into too much depth about a strategy you can craft around this free offer. Any time you can justify a free offer you should definitely make it.

Breaking Bad

The postcard wasn’t perfect though, not by any stretch of the imagination. The back side of the postcard has one HUGE, glaring mistake.bush2 Can you figure out what it is?

Give up? If you can’t figure it out because there’s nothing there, then you hit the nail right on the head.

There’s nothing there! THAT is the HUGE, glaring mistake.

Let me tell you why.

This Space Intentionally Left Blank

Empty space is wasted space. It’s that simple.

Bush’s Chicken went through all the trouble and expense of getting this postcard mailed, but decided to only mail half a postcard. This is what they did when they left one side blank.

They could’ve saved a few bucks on printing if they would’ve gone with a smaller postcard that had print on both sides. But, I know why they left this side of the postcard blank, let me tell you.

EDDMBy looking at the mailing address and postage inidicia I know this was mailed as a USPS EDDM. EDDM stands for Every Door Direct Mail.

When you mail an EDDM piece you pay reduced postage as long as the piece is oversized and you mail full routes.

But there’s a few other things.

Going Corporate

By looking at the postcard I can tell that this is a “corporate” designed postcard, it wasn’t done locally. When you’ve been in the franchise game as long as I have you can pick these things out a mile away.

Design departments that design these marketing pieces aren’t well versed on direct mail. In fact, some of them are criminally ignorant. Which means that franchisees get direct mail marketing materials like this one.

Size Matters

Bush’s Chicken probably has a lot of regular direct mail pieces franchisees can choose from, but no EDDM pieces. When the local franchisee requested a custom EDDM piece they took the approved design of a regular, much smaller, postcard and blew it up to fit this larger format.

That’s why you have all the blank space on one side. A regular direct mail piece is much smaller than this EDDM piece, about half the size. Because the piece is small you have much less “real estate.”

It makes sense for one side to be filled with offers and the other to only have enough room to include a mailing address and indicia. But enough with all this direct mail mumbo-jumbo.

How would I fix this? Great question, here’s how.

Let Me Tell You A Story

I would tell the Bush’s Chicken origin story (this is 100% made up).

The Bush’s Chicken story starts in the country kitchen of Grandma Bush, Loretta. One sunny afternoon Grandma Bush and three members of her church where leaving Sunday service. As they walked they realized they were all so hungry they could eat a horse.

Unfortunately, because it was Sunday the only diner in their small town was closed.

The didn’t want to drive into the “big city,” so Grandma Bush offered a solution that would change her life. She said, “I’m afraid it’s not fancy, but I could fry us up some chicken.”

And that’s exactly what she did.

When they tasted her all-natural, home-cooked fried chicken her three guest where floored. After the meal one of them sheepishly asked, “Loretta, that chicken was the best we’ve ever tasted. I speak for us all when I ask if we can come back next Sunday to eat again? We can pay you.”

Surprised and a little embarrassed she agreed. But, she could’ve never imagined what happened next.

Word spread quickly in her small town and the following Sunday the group of three turned into nine. The week after that it was 22! Every week the number of guest grew.

Her little home could handle them all. So she moved furniture and even sat some outside on picnic tables. Others waited in her living room to be seated. Before she knew it she had to call her Grandson Keith to help her seat, serve and charge her guest.

From those meager beginnings Bush’s Chicken was born, quite by accident.

Today, Keith Bush no longer waits tables. He runs the company that oversees over 60 locations in the state of Texas. He carries on Grandma Bush’s spirit of feeding the mind, body and soul with delicious home cooked fried chicken.

Waste Not, Want Not

Take advantage of every inch of space on any piece of advertising you do. Telling a story is one way to do that. There’s no such thing as saying too much if what you have to say is interesting or helpful.

And by all means DON”T listen to the advertisers that tell you, “You need more empty space.” That’s an excuse they use because they don’t want to do any work.

You would never limit your star salesman to 100 words to make a sale. Why do it with your marketing?

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thanks for reading, I REALLY appreciate it. See you next year!

victorurbinaimagerightleanRemember, “Life is a series of missed opportunities so go for yours.”™

Author: Victor Urbina

To read Victor’s previous columns, click HERE.


Victor Urbina is an author and entrepreneur who helps businesses generate more new customers and make more sales.

Grab a free copy of his newest book “How To GET MORE New Customers, Clients And Patients With Direct Mail”  Leave your name and email address to get a free “readers only” competitive market analysis (a $300 value) of your business.