From Personalized to Personal

Posted on by Greg Cholmondeley | 1 Comment »

Hyundai Letter BlurredAnyone can personalize a mailing by embedding someone’s name on it and maybe slapping on a segmented message, offer or graphic … but making it personal is a whole other trick indeed. At this year’s AppForum I ran a 3-hour preconference intensive workshop on relevant direct marketing. In it, I showed an example of the most powerful direct marketing piece I received this year and discussed why I found it so personal and relevant. It wasn’t glossy, had very little color, arrived in a standard envelope … and it really impressed me.

This particular mailing arrived in a standard, stamped envelope addressed with a handwriting font. OK, so I recognized that it wasn’t really hand-written, and the “Program Headquarters” return address and postal barcodes gave away that this was a campaign – but the effort and the stamp got my attention long enough to open it.

What I found inside was a single-sided, black-and-white, 20 pound sheet of paper that looked like an email printout. The only color on it was some blue text, again printed with the handwriting font so that it looked like scribbled notes. The only image was a small, black and white, photo of a car in the signature area. So, what made this so powerful? The answer is that the content and the delivery were both highly personal and relevant. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Of course it had my name on it, but it was structured so that the email was ABOUT me rather than TO me. The (fake) email note appeared to be from a manager to a sales rep asking him to contact me about trading in my old car.
  • The message and offer were specific. The manager claimed to “need” a couple of cars like the model and year of my car (2004 Volkswagen Jetta) and was willing to pay a specific amount ($8,638) for them by a specific date (January 15th). Exact figures like these are a lot more personal than offers like “10 percent off a new purchase” or “before midnight tonight” and they really stand out in a good way.
  • The message written to me appeared direct and personal. It was printed in handwriting font as though the email had been printed, annotated and dropped in the mail by the sales rep. This is where the call to action appeared – notice that it is separate from the offer. And, again, this “note” was personalized with my information as well as the rep’s name and phone number.
  • Finally, the bottom of the email had a photo of a new car along with a hand-written annotation of its model. This subtle embellishment which appeared as a standard tagline was not part of the offer or call to action, but you can bet it was selected based upon the model of my car.

What a terrific example of effective direct marketing. As it turns out, this particular mailing had the unfortunate timing of hitting me right after I replaced my other car – but I bet it drove a lot of results elsewhere. We can all learn from this example.

  • Personalize in ways that make the message personal
  • Make it clear that the offer is intentional, personal and not just a lucky guess
  • Be specific wherever possible – but don’t get creepy by appearing to know too much
  • Fonts, format, theme and structure support the personal message – but they are NOT that personal message
  • Even simple layouts and designs can be effective if they are intelligently done
  • The ultimate objective, interim objective, offer, and call direction are NOT the same. In this case, the ultimate objective is to sell me a new car, the interim objective is to initiate a conversation, the offer is to give me money on a trade-in, and the call-to-action is to contact the sales rep by a specific date.

So, take a look at this example, think about it, and consider how you could apply these principles in your next campaign. Also, recognize that this represents probably 15 minutes of content from our last 3-day AppForum, and just a speck of the vast PODi library of materials available to members. Readers who can learn from an article like this are the ones who can really leverage the benefits of a PODi membership.

One Response to “From Personalized to Personal”

Comment from Greg Cholmondeley
Time May 20, 2014 at 5:24 am

Hey, this is cool. The company that created this piece, Force Marketing, saw the article and connected with me. Here is a link to their site and blog. Isn’t social media great? Enjoy!

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