Now It's Personal
After venturing into the world of direct mail personalization for the first time, you might find yourself glaring back at your mail pieceperhaps a once brilliantly conceived creative idea with clever use of personalizationto find it now resembles a shoddy, patchwork job. Errors come lapping over one another: Mr. instead of Mrs., incorrect tenses, misspellings, the works.
"When personalizing your [direct mail] piece, you have to design and plan for every eventuality and combination of data," says David Poulos, director of communications for the Graphic Arts Show Co., the firm that dropped this three-panel, 5-3/4" x 11" self-mailer promoting its Graph Expo and Converting Expo conference and exhibition (575GRARSC0903). The four-color piece represents a seamless, fluid use of personalization; the recipient's name and company are cleanly inserted into more than ten fields throughout the mailing. On all accounts, one can not readily detect the application of personalization. It appears as if the recipient's name, "Alicia Suman," and her company, "Napco Direct," were always natural components of the body copy.
According to Poulos, the piece went out to roughly 18,000 individuals and was produced on a NexPress digital printing machine. By going digital, Poulos says, the effort was devoid of a laser-jetted, mass-mailing look and feel.
"This piece was an entirely new presentation, and designed to be highly personalized. I can't stress enough how clean your data needs to be," Poulos says. "Most of the time and effort involved with this piece was setting up a very clean database."
To avoid errors, the creative team at the Graphic Arts Show Co. rewrote some passages to accommodate all variables of data. What's more, to make the effort even more personalized, it added a "mileage indicator" so recipients could see precisely how far the conference location is from their place of business.
On the front of the piece, a graphic of the state of Pennsylvania is displayed with the accompanying copy:"Alicia, Philadelphia to Chicago is 669 Miles."
Poulos said the distance was calculated down to the mile by a software program, and the graphic of the recipient's state was inserted based on the state field in the database containing the addressing information.
"Travel restrictions were still in place at a lot of companies, and if we could show them how close they really were to Chicago, they could rationalize attending more easily," Poulos shares. "The map just brought home the point graphically and extended the personalization further to add impact."
When you only have basic address and name data, says Poulos, you have to use some creativity to extrapolate that data to create new points of interest. "To differentiate your event using personalization, you want to craft a relationship with the recipient of the piece," he advises.
When all the above elements are fused together, it makes for a clean, personalized appeal for the Graphic Arts Show Co.
"If your regular package pulls 2 percent, when you apply this technique, you could easily see that double to 4 percent," says Poulos.