This weekend, our cat went missing. This hadn’t happened before; he’s usually very punctual about mealtimes. It was Saturday morning. No cat greeted us when we got up at 8am, but that wasn’t too unusual. We put food down and went for a run. An hour or so later, we came home; still no cat. We called; still no cat. We were heading out of town for the day for a pre-arranged appointment, so we strategically placed a couple of treats in the house so we’d know if he’d been in when we got home.
We got home at 7pm, later than expected. Treats still there; food untouched. This was cause for concern. A shouty walk down the street and a slow drive around the block turned up nothing. But it was now well after dark, and the only thing we could do was wait until morning.
It was a sleepless night. We got up at 7am and went for a walk around the neighbourhood, looking behind fences and hedges, and calling and listening. We no doubt disturbed plenty of Sunday morning sleep-ins (sorry students), but failed to find any sign of the cat. So it became clear that it was time for a flier drop.
I’ve written plenty of fliers. This was one that I hoped I’d never have to do. We put about 100 of them into letterboxes and on doorsteps.
And at 5pm, he came home. Hungry, upset, and smelling like motor oil, but otherwise unharmed. The system worked! Here’s what I think we got right – and you can apply this to any marketing activity:
- highly targeted. We had a very good idea of where the cat spends most of his time, so we focused only on houses around that area. That meant covering only one side of the street in some cases – no point in bugging people who almost certainly won’t yield results (unqualified leads, if you like).
- taking a direct approach. Being Sunday, there was no mail delivery, so most people wouldn’t have bothered looking in their mail boxes. So the most likely candidates got the flier on their doorstep – or directly handed to them if I saw them. If we’d relied on letterboxes, most people wouldn’t have seen the flier until Monday evening.
- knowing exactly what you want to achieve. In this case, obviously, we wanted to get the cat back safe and sound. So that was our focus. When you’re putting together marketing material, you need to know what you want to get out of it, so that you can put it to work and make that happen.
- keeping the message simple. These fliers were only A6 size so there wasn’t a lot of room. This says only what it needs to, without any waffle.
- a good call to action. I want them to do something – check their garage or shed – so I’m just going to come out and nicely ask them to do so. Suggesting ‘he might be in your garage or shed’ is nowhere near as effective because it’s easy for them to say ‘nah, doubt it’ and forget about it. If you want someone to do something, spell it out. Don’t assume they’ll read between the lines.
We’re pretty convinced that someone saw that flier and checked their garden shed, and watched a cat fly out of it. And I don’t think I’ve ever put together a piece of marketing where I’ve hoped more strongly for a successful outcome – or been more pleased when I got it.