The recent Canada Post strike has been a welcome respite from the flow of pre-cycling that is the lifeblood of our postal system. No unsolicited real estate flyers, coupon bundles, requests for donations, takeout menus, or credit card offers. This made the lonely single page hanging from the lip of my mailbox all the more compelling. It's like the universe knew I needed material for my first piece for the Huffington Post.
I'd like to speak to the marketing savvy of the Jehovah's Witnesses. They totally missed me in terms of my psychographic profile. I am an atheist, and I subscribe to the idea that humanity and all of its works are essentially the sum of water, carbon, and random electrical impulses.
To be fair, it's not like the JWs could have known that in advance of leaving their message -- I'm not sure that database marketing is that advanced yet. On the other hand, perhaps I am in some way indirectly spreading the gospel through this testimony, and that is the real mission. Maybe He is the Social Marketer of all Social Marketers. Mark Zuckerberg may have competition even he can't dismiss.
To the copy editor's credit, the headline on the piece definitely grabbed my attention: "Will Humans Ruin the Earth?" Outside of calling the date for the Rapture you can't get more direct than that. Unfortunately, the answer to this particular question is "yes"; that sum of water, carbon and electrical impulses just can't sustain itself. Al Gore explained it all in An Inconvenient Truth back in Ought Six, and since then I've just tried to get comfortable with the idea.
Being Canadian, my country is An Inconvenient Proof; with King Harpernicus now at the center of our little corner of the universe if we can dig it, cut it, drain it and ship it, we will. Whether phony science, or prophecy, or phony science posing as prophecy, I have to admit that the JWs and I seem to be on the same page as to where we're headed.
The rest of the letter invited to me to come and hear about how God's Kingdom is coming. Now, as far as I am aware of things religious, God's Kingdom happens when we kind of, you know, wipe ourselves out. Then Jesus comes back as our tour guide or something. I am not well versed in these matters, but given how we treat our planet, and lead by example, perhaps Canada has a future in post-existential tourism and the JWs are just trying to get ahead of the curve in an emerging market.
Then came the hard sell. I mean, Al Gore had graphs and charts and some awesome footage, but these guys are promoting "paradise" and my family could qualify. I didn't see anything about condos or fine print about introductory interest rates and the "admission is free". This was a no-strings offer unlike any other I get when there's regular mail delivery. The only piece missing was whether it was close to my house and provided free parking. I hate commuting to paradise.
Ultimately, that's where these guys let me down. Brilliant sell job, but I'd have to get to Kitchener. I live in Toronto, which is about two hours away if you're a crow and four hours if you invoke the glories of the internal combustion engine. It might as well be in another province. Someone has to tell the Jehovah's Witnesses that the Earth God created is a big place and that while the highways don't necessarily lead to hell they are intrinsically of it.
At the end of the day, the key to any direct marketing is to understand the geography of the market. Am I going to try the new greenhouse gas burger at Omnifood? If there's a drive-thru at a franchise a block from my house and I don't have to wait 15 minutes, then yes. Tell me I have to drive to Kitchener? Not even if I get a two-for-one coupon in the mail.