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Personalized Direct Mail Improves Relevancy and Response

By Bob Martel

In any direct marketing effort, if the relevance of the message delivered is the key to building perceived value and response, why do so many marketers take obvious shortcuts that negatively impact results? Okay, that was a long sentence. Let me try again. Said another way, why are so many direct marketers failing to achieve stellar campaign results? As the title suggests, this brief article shines a spotlight on an often overlooked and under-leveraged component of any great campaign: direct mail personalization. 

Some would argue that the days of great response are a thing of the past. Copy was king in the pioneering days of direct mail marketing, and it's still important today. With a powerful arsenal of personalization tools and techniques, today's direct marketers are pioneers of a different kind. Personalization is more than merging a correctly spelled prospect name onto an envelope. Today's direct marketing technologies make highly personalized campaigns possible for the small business market, where great results are essential.

Keep these thoughts in mind before you put pen to paper. (People do still write with a pen, don't they?)

• Don't overlook the obvious. Start with good list hygiene to guarantee proper mail addressing. A great piece won't deliver, opened, read and acted upon if the correct person does not receive it, or if the name is misspelled! 

• What is the emotional connection you seek to build with the prospect? What data are you collecting to support your effort? Consider list enhancement to fill in the gaps, and do some homework to understand the possibilities.

• Personalization is database driven. Match the level of personalization to the type of campaign and the customer buying cycle (lead generation, lead development, retention/loyalty)

• Take your favorite high tech printer to lunch. Are you aware of the latest document printing technologies? On-demand digital color variable data printing is available around the corner from you or over the Internet. Get smart. The thought leaders in digital printing industry are trying to educate you about the possibilities.

• Speaking of printers, why is it that printers are the worst direct marketers? They have access to all of this powerful technology they want to sell us, yet they do not lead by example. So, be sure to choose a digital printer who "gets it" about personalized direct mail and can show you samples. 

• Remember the power of the pen and the written word. A handwritten thank you note and a personalized Post-It note on the letter or on the envelope (see your mail house for regulations) still do the trick.

Speaking of the pen, what ever happened to the handwritten signature. Even if you have 10,000 pieces in the mail, hire a few people to hand sign them. 

Bob Martel is a marketing consultant, direct response copywriter and corporate hot air balloon pilot. He can be reached at (508)481-8383 or (bobmartel@jmbmarketing.com) 

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