Let’s Get Direct!

Each week, we’ll distill a new piece of Direct Marketing that we have actually received and break it down for you!

Every week? Yeah, that’s right – in order to atone for the subject of this first piece, we are making a commitment to you the reader, that we will review a piece weekly. You see, we aren’t taking a political stance; we are reviewing a direct mail piece, from a marketing perspective. Theoretically, this piece shouldn’t be political in nature, but…let’s be the judge of that, together.

Ok, let’s dive in shall we?


This letter arrived in the mailbox on April 30th. I’m not sure what the purpose was, as the funds it advertised had already been received AND there is really no distinct Call-to-Action, or is there…


Direct Mail, received through the USPS, with this very official looking outer envelope.

Frankly, this scared the heck out of me. Getting a letter from the “Internal Revenue Service” with a “Penalty for Private Use, $300” can be rather off-putting, if not terrifying.

Luckily, I am a reasonable taxpayer who understands these things. The unreasonableness only happens on the inside.


Inside this mildly threatening envelope was a rather convoluted and confusing stream of consciousness from the highest office in the land.

The letterhead dispels any initial concern about the direction of the letter. I have only once ever received another letter directly from “The White House” before, and it was from former President Ronald Reagan when I attained the coveted rank of Eagle Scout in 1987.

What follows is a slightly edited, tersely worded message of…something.  My favorite is the very first sentence in the first paragraph, which includes the redundant use of “global” and “pandemic”.  Followed by the use of a superlative without a distinct definitive – the “top priority” is my “health and safety”.  That’s two priorities. Further, the author mentions “we wage total war” while also having the time to “protect hardworking Americans” like me from the shutdown.

In a rare display of how awesome our government works together, the letter then outlines how quickly this gigantic $2.2 trillion deal came together.

This is where it falls off the rails. $2.2 trillion is a lot of money. A lot, a lot. Later in this letter, the amount of “economic assistance” my family received is outlined. While I’m not comfortable sharing the amount, just know that it is roughly 0.00000000970% of the total amount.

It’s worth mentioning, that if you divided the $2.2 trillion by the number of households in the US (128 million), we should have gotten 0.000000078%, but hey, who’s counting zeros!


Finally, we get to the offer:

It was both fast and direct. I have to give them that.

Yes! Show me the (my) money! I am getting cash money! Wait, I already got it! Roughly two weeks prior. With no action taken. The only thing it said in my online banking was “US Treasury Dept”, but I got the gist.


Finally, we get to the whole point of this exercise. Before we analyze the closing and how it reveals the true purpose of this communication, let’s think about what it cost. Yes, $2.2 trillion was effortlessly distributed to taxpayers, but there had to be a communication, right? No. Not really.  Like all great things in government, this requires the government to get bids on the production and delivery of these letters. It’s all out in the open, so we get to see how much it cost them! Here’s the results of their call for a bid on this particular job:

This tells us a few things:

  • At a minimum, this cost the government ~$1,000,000 (which was appropriated to the Treasury in the CARES Act)
  • The gap between these providers is wide, makes you wonder who included postage in their estimate
  • Why does this notice need to go out at all???

Yes, let’s get to the closing.

It’s obvious in the choice of language (tremendous, conquered, conquer) and the enormous, very, very large signature who this letter is REALLY from.

It wasn’t till I got to the end that I realized what the call-to-action was; this is a 2020 campaign ad, using our money, to deliver us our own money back.


This is, without a doubt, an ad for the Trump 2020 campaign. Is it effective? It certainly tells the reader that the money they received is directly related to the work the President has done. Is it valid? Probably not. This band-aid will likely show to be a feeble attempt at containing a hemorrhage that we will all be living with for years to come. While my household has (thankfully) seen minimal financial impact from the pandemic, I can only imagine what many households are going through. This “bailout” is NOT even close to helping many families, and is even worse for the underbanked, who have to wait for a check.


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