My business “Visual Reality” was a video subscription service for churches, but more specifically, youth directors at churches.  We produced video illustrations, countdowns and motion backgrounds for them to use in their programming.

I started this particular company back in January of 2001 as the internet was still in its infancy.  Google Adwords had officially launched in October of 2000 only a couple of months prior to our launch.  In fact, it wasn’t long after we launched that I began advertising with Adwords with costs coming in at around 5 cents a click, the ROI was epic!!

However, whether it was Adwords, banner ads, conventions, email marketing, renting mailing lists, or direct mail (all marketing techniques I was using at the time) NONE of these methods came close to my secret weapon.  FAXES!!  Don’t believe it?  Faxes provided me a higher ROI than any of my other marketing and advertising tools by far and I don’t think I have had as much success since with any other marketing tool.

Now, before you click away, this article isn’t about faxes.  It is about using marketing techniques that take your audience by surprise to such a degree that they almost HAVE to read your copy!

So, why were faxes so successful?  Let’s call it the “Law of Imminent Perusal.”  You see, in the early 2000s, fax machines were still necessary pieces of equipment, even more than they are today.  Almost every church had one and used it from time to time to fax invoices, receipts, purchase orders, etc.

However, there was one staff member that almost never received documents via the fax machine: The Youth Director.  Youth Directors never received faxes partly because those marketing to youth directors assumed they would be too young and hip to be using a clunky old fax machine.  At that time, the marketing tool of choice was the 5 x 7 direct mail full-color postcard.  Guess what the average youth director had tons of…  5 x 7 Full-Color postcard.  My opinion of the 5 x 7 postcard at the time?  Do not press “go,” proceed directly to the trash can.

On the other hand, guess what youth directors almost NEVER received (if ever…)  You got it… A fax.  So, I  found a company that could sell me the use rights of a list of churches and their fax numbers.  I was able to narrow it down and select churches that had youth directors and I was able to procure the name of said director.

After locating a company online that was able to send fax blasts digitally and learning about how low the sending costs would be,  I created a simple fax design that got the point across simply and easily, but wouldn’t eat up a lot of black fax ink.

After our first fax blast, the results were outstanding.  Orders were flying in both through our website and through the phone all because of the fax blast.  The cost for us to send the blast in the first place was extremely low.  Pennies on the dollar.  I sent and sent fax blasts as much as I possibly could without wearing out their welcome.

So, why was this tactic so beneficial?  Again, it’s what I call the “Law of Imminent Perusal.”  It happens when your marketing or advertising tactic (advertisement, content, etc.) absolutely cannot be ignored by your target viewer for various reasons.  In a sense, they are magnetized by the content simply because the method/medium you are using is so unusual!

[tweetthis url=””]The Law of Imminent Perusal: Your #Marketing #Method is So Left Field, They’re Compelled to Munch The #Content.[/tweetthis]


Either it is something they are forced to read because of other circumstances or something they will almost always want to read because of a very high curiosity factor.  In this case, the medium was the culprit that ignited the curiosity factor.  Youth directors NEVER received faxes.  So, when one did come through with their name on it, 2 things happened.

    1.  The copy room attendant, who would normally trash the fax or pass it on to the recipient, notices that this fax is for the youth director, someone who traditionally never receives a fax.  For whatever reason this makes the attendant even more eager to make sure the youth director receives this “important” fax.  He/She will either deliver it straight to his office, or might place it into the director’s mailbox with a special note.  I have actually seen this happen myself.
    2. The Youth Director, who is not used to receiving a fax, notices the odd document with the all white and black ink and reads it.  Most of them read the fax out of sheer curiosity.  “Why am I getting a fax?  I never get faxes?!”  As long as the copy is clear and the call to action is intriguing and palatable, the success rate of the campaign was strong.

On a funny note…  We only had a couple of problems with our faxes.  First, the phone number was slightly blurry and the end-user called what they thought was our own number, but was actually an “adult entertainment” line.  They were NOT happy when they called us and let us know what had happened.  We, of course, were overly apologetic for the problem.

Another user who received a fax from us was not pleased with the amount of ink our un-requested fax he returned a shot across our bow by using a sharpy to color an entire page of white paper black.  Then he proceeded to send us back the fax in hopes of sucking the ink out of our own fax machine.  Shots fired!!!

As far as I know, it isn’t possible to do fax blasts anymore.  The FCC doesn’t approve of such methods.  It truly was fun while it lasted…  However, the “Law of Imminent Perusal” can be used over and over again in any market.

Ultimately, this trick worked great for me because it used what was an unexpected genre to garner attention and ultimately response.  Can you think of any present day examples where the “Law of Imminent Perusal” might be utilized?  Comment Below!

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