EDITORIAL: Connecting With Your Customer

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A business-to-business direct mail piece arrived last week - a foldout poster - from Kerker Marketing Communications, a full-service agency based in Minneapolis. Many of you might have received it as well. One word sums up this campaign, though: creepy.

<img src="/images/2-200.gif" align="left" vspace="2"> The piece is a 19-inch-by-26-inch black-and-white photograph of a man about to be dissected, his skin stretched out by T pins around his body, the glare of harsh fluorescent lights shining down. At the top are the words, "Dissecting it won't tell you what it's thinking." It, by the way, is a human being. Yeesh. At the bottom, "Traditional methods yield traditional results. But probe for deeper meanings and you'll gain new insights. At Kerker, our proprietary process will uncover your customers' loves, hates, fears, desires -- the things that allow you to connect with them." Just a guess, but driving T-pins through their skin - the only thought on the brain at this point -- probably isn't a way to connect. All the while, the man's open eyes stare right through you. For many, there's a complete disconnect, and the piece will land in the trash immediately.

However, from looking through the campaigns featured on its Web site for Target, Gelco Information Network, American Medical Systems and others, you can see that Kerker has an innovative team on board. It touts that creativity as well: "We insist that our creative be impactful, insightful and right. ... Is it smart? Does it address the customer's hopes, dreams, and fears? It's got to pluck at the heart, entertain the brain, grab wherever it's good to be grabbed if it's going to successfully create customers. ... Is it compatible with the client's culture? We judge our own work harshly. If it doesn't feel right, you'll never see it."

What are your thoughts on this campaign? Is it effective, or does it cross the line? E-mail me at tad@dmnews.com, and we'll share your thoughts in a future issue. We'll also ask Kerker executives for their reasoning for how the piece came together.
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