Thursday, June 11, 2009

Get Personal. Get Results. (Part 2 of 3)

Get Personal. Get Results.
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Personalizing Prospect Marketing

First, a definition.

Everyone starts as a prospect, ie someone that a marketer believes might donate/buy/subscribe/join/attend or in some fashion show interest in the sponsoring non-profit/company/magazine/organization, etc.

Not all prospects are created equal. To paraphrase George Orwell, some are more equal than others. Hence the first challenge is to find the right people who might want to donate/buy etc. That effort is called “prospecting.”

Looking for prospects starts with a definition of your optimal buyer. Then you define and refine until you get a many faceted profile.

Like grizzled 49ers of old prospected for gold in them thar hills of California, today’s frazzled marketers prospect for gold in the thousands of lists on the market. With the right list and the right approach, the marketer finds his gold.

Finding good prospects just starts with list selection.

Looking for donors? Go to donor files. Select donors to allied organizations. Simple. Or maybe not.

Looking for business owners? There are a thousand lists. Drill down through company size, gender of owner, location (and number of locations), industry sector, number of employees, type of organization (franchise, LLC, Inc, privately/publicly held, HOBO, etc) to find the list you need.

Now you can use the new technology of “data mining” to get even further into the prospect’s head.

Are you asking for the donors to support a non-profit summer camp for indigent children? Women would probably be your best prospects, and women with children would be even better. Families with household income over $xx would mean the family has expendable income to share, and those who have shown their love of nature and support for children’s causes would improve your “hit” rate.

If you’re looking for business owners who travel a lot, maybe those with multiple office/plant locations would be a starting point. If they have a second home, that’s a plus. If they are pilots or sailors, that helps define them as well.

Now you’re finding out what really makes these people tick.

Simultaneously with extracting the gold from the lists, you need to develop creative copy and design that maximizes the impact of your message. Find out what their individuals needs and interests are, then design your message to emphasize those issues.

New production technologies allow for variable full color graphics and copy. Here is how a few companies are using the latest in personalization technology to enhance their prospecting efforts...

Case Study #1. The exclusive mountain resort community. They sent oversized postcards to married couples with household income over $xx, in a specific geographic region. Artwork was based on the recipient’s ethnicity, age and hobbies.

If the recipients were Caucasian, 40-60 years old, so were the models. If he liked golf and she liked tennis, the male model had golf clubs in his hands; she had a tennis racket in hers. They stood in front of the magnificent clubhouse with a world-class view of receding mountains.

The graphic designer used the recipient’s name in color to eye-catching effect, thus creating a split second opening for the recipients to soak it all in. It wasn’t much of a stretch for the targeted couple to see themselves in the picture as it spoke directly to them and their interests.

Case Study #2. The Long Term Care Insurance provider. His marketing package utilized variable art and copy based on the recipient’s age, gender, ethnicity, physical location, and household income. The photo showed a couple waking on the beach with the statement “Now is the time to think about Long Term Care Insurance.”

The copy speaks to women by name as they tend to outlive their husbands and therefore need this product more, and because women make 70% of insurance decisions for their households. “Hypothetical” tables based on the couple’s age and income show what a plan could cost—and could deliver.

Case Study #3. The real estate agent. In an economy that had produced zero house sales for her the previous year, she opted to mail renters telling them to stop wasting rent money and buy a home.
The renters, selected on geographic proximity to her office as well as their household income, got an oversized postcard showing a photo of a home with a curbside mailbox. The home was in the background in soft focus; the mailbox was center front and crisp. On each mailbox was the name of the targeted family: Ramirez, Wong, Williams, Curtis. Subliminally the recipients could “see” themselves in this picture, in their new home.

These three examples show how the newly available filters can help inventive marketers position themselves in unique ways, to people who are specifically qualified for those messages. All three were working with prospect lists, using new technology and fresh creativity to stand out in the mailbox.

Are these individualized approaches more expensive than a traditional one-shot-fits-all marketing approach? Yep. Each individually prepared piece has a different mix of graphics and copy going to highly selected and qualified targets. That effort does have a price.

Are these personalized approaches more successful? Yep again. People see themselves and they respond.

The result: companies mail smaller quantities and get the same number of leads.

Technically, this extreme personalization process is called VDP or Variable Data Printing. It requires lots of computer power, marketing expertise and a precise mix of people and equipment to pull it off.

However, unlike shot gun marketing, with VDP you can approach only people that you know are the perfect target for your message. So you print less (that’s good
green business practice), pay less in postage (that’ll keep the bean counters happy) and generate a higher return rate (that’ll make the boss ecstatic).

As the pharmaceutical ads say, VDP isn’t for everyone. It’s more expensive, it takes more time in development, and it can be nerve wracking waiting for the creative and data processing and programming to come together. But when it works, it’s amazing!

It’s state-of-the-art direct marketing. Until the next new-best-thing comes along.

Part III of this series focuses on personalization in housefiles.
43670 Trade Center Place, Suite 150, Dulles, VA 20166
Phone: 703.996.0800 Fax: 703.996.0888 1.866.365.2858

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