How New Media Companies Find Customers

I recently received a pitch from Google, inviting me to try their new Adwords Express program. The pitch began like this:

 “Did you know that 58% of Americans search online to learn about products and services they’re thinking about buying? Wouldn’t you love your business’s message in front of the people who are searching the web for what you’re selling, right when they’re searching for it?”

How did Google deliver this message to me?

  • A banner on one of my favorite marketing web sites? Nope.
  • A text ad on Google when I searched for “advertising”? Wrong again.

I found it in my mailbox. Not my email box… my actual mailbox. In a paper envelope, delivered to my by the United States Postal Service. It looked like this:


Google, the new-media goliath whose GMail program is one of the nails in the Postal Service coffin… uses old-fashioned snail mail to reach out to new clients. Google used an actual printer to put ink on paper, stuffed it in an envelope, and had someone deliver it to my office.

Marketing guru Dan Kennedy, who also received a letter from Google, had this to say:

“Even the company that dominates online advertising is unable to rely on online advertising to get its new customers… And by the way, they didn’t just mail a simple postcard and tell folks to go online to get te sales letter or watch a video or whatever; they enclosed a 2-page piece laying out their full sales presentation.”

Here’s another example of “new media” companies using “old media” to bring in customers: a recent one-hour episode of the ABC-TV show Castle had commercials for:

  • The iPad 2
  • Microsoft
  • Droid Razr smartphone
  • Nook Tablet
  • Att Wireless/iPhone
  • Kindle Fire Tablet

Amazon, maker of the Kindle Fire, has millions of email addresses on file, along with an enormous amount of information on the purchasing habits of each customer. They can, and do, push the Fire every time someone logs onto They can, and do, email their customers to promote the Fire.

The marginal cost to Amazon of either of those approaches is close to zero. In addition, they have lots of other inexpensive online and mobile ways to target customers.

And yet, as holiday purchasing decisions were being made, Amazon opened its virtual checkbook and wrote a nice fat check for a commercial on… The ABC Television Network. The same ABC Network that brought us Howard Cosell, Harry Reasoner, and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.

So did Apple, Microsoft, and AT & T Wireless.

Maybe they know something.


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