Personalized direct mail, or digital printing has earned itself somewhat of a bad reputation over the last few years. Too often, marketers take the cheap route and send mail that while personalized with details about the recipient is lacking a personal feel. These personal mailings make use of valuable purchase data, personal preferences and demographics and match it with beautifully high quality digital printing to create what should be effective personal communication. If only it were used that way.
Let’s say someone recently purchased a Nintendo Wii package that included 2 Wii controllers. When the communication to that buyer includes statements such as, “we noticed you purchased a Nintendo Wii with 2 Wii controllers” – this can not only be a turn off but it’s “institutional speak” lacking nuance and personalization. The buyer already knows what they purchased and may be a little uncomfortable that you know so much about their buying habits. It’s also not personal. Certainly it shows you know detailed information about their buying habits, but it lacks an understanding of their needs. A better approach could be, “to go along with your recently purchased video game system we would like to offer special pricing on the following hot games…” This is a more subtle approach that doesn’t run the same risk of creeping out the buyer with too much detailed information. At the same time, you know you have products that they may be interested in buying.
The days of impressing a customer with their name in a fancy star are gone. Get over it. To continue the old ways is just laziness. We have all this valuable data, all this knowledge about consumers, and yet too often we take the lazy route. It doesn’t take much to bring a more luxurious attitude to your customers and employees. Variable data printing is both powerful and flexible, but you need a better, more strategic marketing plan to more fully take advantage of the sales potential. Make your customers feel valued. Don’t be so obvious about your intentions. Don’t be so personal that you creep out the consumer. Build the relationship and great things will happen.
Direct mail is so much stronger than electronic mail. It can be held, read at leisure and can instantly relay impressions of quality – something any hack can imitate online. Often, direct mail will lay around the house until needed. Then, the consumer will search the house over to find the mailing piece. These are strengths that need to be taken advantage of and not turned into weaknesses.
We have the potential to revitalize ourselves and the direct mail and mailing services industry, but it will only happen when we start thinking more strategically about the powerful information we possess.