Beth Keserauskis

Building relationships and making connections

Tree Pollen Distribution Has Similar Success to Direct Mail

It dawned on me the other day as I was trying without success to get the pollen off my windshield that the pollen distribution strategy of trees in the spring is remarkably similar to the traditional, unsolicited direct mail strategy. My gross overgeneralization of unsolicited direct mail strategy is that you cast a HUGE net over a very loosely targeted area to people who have not tried to start a dialog with your company or about your product/service with your direct mail pieces, hoping you get a response that will eventually turn into a sale.

Trees release a HUGE amount of pollen, over whatever area they can get using wind as the distribution strategy. That area is not necessarily the right area, as much of the pollen lands on concrete, houses, cars, etc. Then the tree has to pray that the seeds can make it into the ground, that rain falls, and then that successful germination occurs. We still haven’t made it to the “sale” part of the equation, because now the tree has to hope that someone doesn’t pull it out of the ground, or mow their grass before it can grow tall, or that some animal doesn’t find it a tasty treat.

See how this is remarkably similar to unsolicited direct mail?? The advantages that the trees have that has allowed this strategy to remain successful are:

  • They have a lot of time to be patient and wait for success. Their life cycle is long. If they don’t have successful germination and growth in one spring, they can try again for likely several hundred more springs.
  • There are a lot of the same trees out there doing the same thing.
  • They have “ambassadors” in that people are actively planting trees in the spaces they would like them to grow.

So can you and your business afford to spray your direct mail once a year, hope something sticks  and if not, just wait until the next spring? I would venture to guess not. Just one more piece of evidence why unsolicited, unqualified direct mail cannot be your only strategy.


April 26, 2010 - Posted by | connecting, higher education, marketing, sales | , , ,


  1. The company I freelanced for earlier this year was really big into direct mail. They didn’t care how they got people on a list, they just wanted one. It was very frustrated because they were spending money that could have been allocated elsewhere.

    I think that a lot of “old school” leaders think direct mail is marketing. And yes, it was effective in the past. But not now…obviously. I think some businesses (even today) are afraid of the Internet. Excuses I hear often are that their target customers don’t use the Internet. My response: Have you done research to back that up.

    Great post as always!

    Comment by Andreea Townsend | July 8, 2010 | Reply

    • Well, I guess it makes me feel better to a certain extent that higher education is not the only place still spraying direct mail everywhere! LOL, kidding of course. I know that change is difficult and scary, especially in higher ed. One approach I think I am going to try next is to just test a few new strategies within a particular audience so that I can show success, versus just scrapping “the way things have always been done” completely. Maybe a few small victories will help convince the curmudgeons! 🙂

      Comment by Elizabeth Keserauskis | July 12, 2010 | Reply

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