Stop the Personalization Snobbery!

By | February 25, 2014

A funny thing happened to me today. I received a postcard in the mail, and I was unbelievably impressed by the targeting. I couldn’t believe how timely and relevant this mailing was.

We are in the process of moving across town, and part of the logistics of selling this home and moving into a new one may require temporary storage of some of our belongings. Just today, in fact, I had been thinking about PODs as the perfect solution to the challenge.

I opened the mailbox this afternoon, and guess what was staring at me? A postcard from PODs! Perfect! How did they know? What algorithms were they using that allowed them to be so precisely targeted — not just in the recipient base but in the timing? I was intrigued. I looked at the mailing label.

“Dear Resident . . .”

I had to laugh. Yesterdays’ blogger Richard Romano has called this “serendipity marketing.” Others call it “spray and pray.”

While we like to be personalization snobs, you know what? Sometimes it works. When using programs like the USPS’s Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) program, it’s also dirt cheap.  It would only take rental of two or three PODs in the entire township to cover the postage and printing of this mailing. Anything else is a bonus.

While we promote personalized, relevance-based print marketing, it’s important to remember that undifferentiated direct mail works, too. There is a reason direct mail has been the bedrock of direct marketing for decades . . . even before personalized printing came to town.


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2 thoughts on “Stop the Personalization Snobbery!

  1. jacob aizikowitz

    Relevancy (segmentation, timeliness, content) is the name of the game. Personalization was never meant just literally.

    If you can’t tie in relevancy with efficient production then you get to where the industry have been 15 or more years ago — very few number of segments, relatively long runs for each, a lot of waste. TO say it differently, targeting precision was sacrificed in order to get production sanity which, indirectly, led to a lot of waste (th stuff that was printed but never used).

    Variable data printing technologies — from design of variability, through binding with rules and data, to the generation of the output stream and the efficient processing of that stream to generate printed materials — enable Relevancy and Efficiency.

    It does not have to be literally personalized.

    If in Heidi’s example, the entity that created the communication would want to reach “Current Resident” across a broader geography, where for each neighborhood or zip-code there would be another set of options for temporary storage then doing it in one run, say once a week or once a month, and get all different postcards in the run is the most efficient way of handling this task. Otherwise, one needs to do a run for each neighborhood alone, one needs to have different postcard content, maintained manually for each neighborhood version, and the night-mare just begins…

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