What’s Wrong with This Personalization?

By | August 23, 2013

We received an amusing personalized postcard in the mail yesterday.  What’s wrong with it? Let us count the ways.

Walker BaitThey got the name right. Our last name is Walker.

But Walker’s Bait & Tackle? My husband is a fisherman, but he’s a catch-and-release fly fisherman, not a bait and tackle guy. Maybe a bug or two if he’s fishing with the kids, but au naturale — caught with his bare hands, and IT doesn’t track that.

More interesting is Walker’s Bait & Tackle. Did the sender confuse our home with a business? I run a business out of our home, but we’re still considered residential, and I don’t fish.

In all, it’s a very confusing mailer.

All of this leads to the question: Is all personalization good personalization? If you apply the same concept behind “all publicity is good publicity” (a la Brad Paisley’s “Celebrity”), then the answer is yes. But if your ultimate goal is to create or deepen client relationships (rather than the personalization version of spray and pray, which this appears to be), the answer is no.

(Who even knew there was a personalized version of spray and pray? Apparently there is!)

So what do you think? Does this mailing have any chance of working even if the personalization is completely off base? Why or why not? Chime in!

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8 thoughts on “What’s Wrong with This Personalization?

  1. Gina Danner

    Heidi… While I tend to agree with you in that all personalization isn’t good personalization, the marketer in me reminds me that the proof of the campaign is in the ROI of the effort.

    There are lots of other phrases that may have been better choices, “Walker’s Fishing Hole”, “Gone Fishing, the Walkers”, “A bad day fishin’ is better than a good day anywhere else. Walker”

    The real proof of good or bad personalization is in the ROI.

  2. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    Agreed . . . but the point is that there are no bait and tackle fishermen here. It’s not just that we aren’t a retail business. It’s that, by attempting to “personalize” the mailing, the marketer’s lack of understanding of customer segmentation made the mailing completely irrelevant. Fly fishermen and bait & tackle fishermen are generally different breeds. They have entirely different demographics. In fact, I would say that fly fishing and bait & tackle fishing are as different as competitive cycling and NASCAR. So what struck me about this was the lack of understanding of fundamental customer segmentation.

  3. Joe Manos

    Great post Heidi. Gina I agree with your point. Heidi totally agree with your point on what targeted marketing is all about as well.

    Personalized marketing today is about a personalized message, at the right time with the right offer that resonates with the recipient.

    If you aren’t sure about your audience and you are gathering information there are still approaches that will make it more effective.

    At least they are attempting to get it right. They just need a good partner to help them refine their methodologies.

  4. Maria Del Amo

    Hello to all! Heidi, I would have love to see the full mailer. The image doesn’t capture the whole essence of the messaging. But as far as your “spray and pray” personalization, I truly agree. On the other hand, Gina shares a valid point. The whole campaign makes me wonder what they are trying to achieve…what’s their goal? By just looking at the mailer, a graphical illustration of the products they can do for you goes a long way. I tend to be curious so I would have visited their web site and see what they do even if it was not my hobby of choice.

    But then again, the question here is that the message is not relevant to the recipient even though it is personalized. Joe is correct…the execution was flawed.

  5. TeamPrintArt

    Heidi, I think we are going to see great progress in personalization in the future. Thanks for sharing your “personal”ization experience, teaches marketers old and new a great lesson. Though, I do give an old style company, like a bait and tackle shop, kudos for trying. Love, love, love your concept of “spray and pray in personalization”. Some habits are hard to break!

  6. Bob

    I have to disagree. I read this a week ago and it was still up in my browser so I figured it bothered me enough I should comment.

    My first question is who was it actually mailed to, you or your husband? Overall, though, I really think you are over thinking this mailer. I think it is coincidence that your husband fishes and you got a “Walker Bait and Tackle” mailer. It’s such a generic bait shop graphic that even if they did pick up your husband’s shopping habits, that they probably don’t have anything closer – but that isn’t the point. The point is they can take “a” company logo and plaster it all over several kinds of apparel. I don’t think they thought it out more than that – or need to considering what they are selling.

    Would you have been perfectly happy if a nice dry Adams replaced the leaping fish? Would that made the marketing more effective for you? You are still not a fly fishing store so they’d still be off the mark. Or perhaps your husband was shopping for box wrenches and he got a mailer with a logo for a auto repair shop? Would that be better or worse?

  7. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    Bob, to answer your questions, if I didn’t write about personalization for a living, the piece would have been thrown in the trash immediately.

    We get tons of mail, and when something is clearly irrelevant to us, we throw it away. When we receive mail with monster trucks, we don’t look to see if it’s really selling custom tires for our SUV. When I receive a catalog with baby diapers and formula on the cover, I don’t look to see if they’re also selling skin lotion or foot powder. Likewise, when I see something with Bait & Tackle in my face, it’s immediately tagged and categorized as irrelevant.

    So to answer the question, the answer is “the same.” Since I’m not a beer drinker, “a nice, dry Adams” as irrelevant to me as bait & tackle, so in terms of marketing value, they are both equally irrelevant. Irrelevant is annoying, and personalizing something irrelevant just makes it more so.

  8. Carolyn Dennis

    40/40/20, right? I agree that there was poor segmentation here. Matching the messaging should be equally matched to the consumer – that’s the 40/40.

    Furthermore the point of personalization is to be PERSONAL. This piece should have been segmented as close to the individual consumer traits as it could have been. Going a little more general and saying “Custom apparel just for you” would have been a better way to embrace the Walkers personally than being off the mark with the bait and tackle shop concept. You can say the proof is in ROI, but the writing is on the wall if we professionals can’t agree on the singular messaging goal of this mailer and are frustrated by the off-the-mark personalization. How are non-marketers going to react to this mailer? They aren’t going to stop and analyze it, they’re just going to say “I guess this company doesn’t know me after all.”

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