Targeted direct marketing blows a five-amp fuse…

I’m very proud to say that my wife (and three nephews) have retained possession of a family farm in central Nebraska that was homesteaded by her pioneering great great grandfather. It’s nothing that will ever make us rich, but it is a great source of pride to be able to hang onto a piece of land with so much history, filled with the hopes and dreams of those who worked the Platte River Valley homestead for so many years. Besides, we recently learned that Bill Gates has been buying up farms in Nebraska, so it’s a hot property these days.

For legal reasons, the property is set up as the “(My wife’s maiden name) Family Farm,” with my wife listed as the principal contact for the operation, even though it is farmed now under a contract arrangement with local farmers.

So we were rather amused last week when this piece of targeted direct mail arrived in our mailbox, addressed to Margo Lamb of the “Lamb Family Farm.”

It seems that Whataburger is soliciting businesses in our area in Las Cruces to give free food coupons to their employees as a reward. “Please put these coupons in your break room or where your team can share them,” the direct mail piece suggests. Of course, to get a free Whataburger, “Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit,” milkshake or “Breakfast on a Bun,” you have to buy a bunch of other food items that you probably don’t want. It also says you can order some “made to order appreciation” for your business team.

Well, let’s put this in perspective.

For starters, There are no Whataburger franchises in Nebraska. The closest ones are in Amarillo, TX, or Stillwater, OK, about 475 miles away from the farm in central Nebraska. Secondly, the “Lamb Family Farm” really has no employees, although I guess you might consider my wife as one, even though she receives no compensation for monitoring the legal affairs of the property. And then there’s the issue of the non-existent “Break Room.” Maybe the cab of a John Deere tractor?

But what is kind of creepy is how this direct mail program seemed to come up with enough personal data to know that my wife was involved in a family farming operation. Of course, they got the name of the operation wrong and assumed the farm was just out our back door somewhere in the Mesilla Valley.

I think I may give them a call to see if they can send up a box of burgers and fries for a TGIF “team” celebration 977 miles away in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, I guess we could enjoy some of the 16 different coupons

However, if you’re trying to reach potential customers in Nebraska with fast food, I think they’d actually prefer a Runza (look it up) to a Whataburger.

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