Archive for April, 2012

When Customer Profiling and Stereotyping Are All in the Line of Duty

Variable Data and Database Marketing is Key to Customer ProfilingAirport security guards are warned not to violate civil rights by profiling passengers. Human Resource recruiters are under watch by the EEOC so they don’t racially profile candidates. And police officers are under constant watchdog scrutiny to prevent future criminal, predictive, or racial profiling.

However, Chief Marketing Officers are one of the few professionals who must profile people as part of their jobs. Of course they must follow privacy and disclosure laws, but a successful marketing manager can and should profile customers with the intent of selling them appropriate products and services.

Customer profiling in the marketing world is defined as finding new prospects just like your best customers by comparing the demographic profiles of these individuals with your prospect population.

During what I’ll call the lazy years of marketing, marketers might describe who they believed to be their best customers to a list broker and that list broker would sell them a list of prospects based on a few pieces of business or consumer criteria (revenue, location, number of employees or age, income, education).

Fast forward to today and multiple overlays (one option includes 44 different overlay tools of variable data) can be applied to your customer database to pinpoint with laser accuracy what your prime customer profile is and how to duplicate it. Just turn over your customer file to be matched against a comprehensive dataset of U.S. business and/or consumers to create a customized market penetration analysis. The strength of customer profiling lies in its ability to provide up to 28 consumer and 16 business demographic overlays, revealing your true customer.

Using data to drive your business decisions, you can then take your marketing (and your business) to a whole new level and construct marketing models to squeeze even more sales out of your budget.


Healthcare Company Finetunes It Marketing Spend through Profiling and Analysis

A $20 billion healthcare company used analytics to optimize its marketing spend. Client marketing was geared towards direct to consumer advertising, with TV accounting for more than 50% of the budget. The seven-brand portfolio had a high spend-to-sales ratio of 25%, and management wanted to increase efficiency.

Using data sources such as the client’s internal data, financial and government records, models were built to measure sales by marketing tools targeting  to pharmacists and other audiences.

The models found that 13% of sales were due to direct marketing programs, TV commercials, pharmacy displays, and sales calls. However, this was unprofitable relative to the 25% spending-to-sales ratio.

As a result, this healthcare company reduced spending 10% and held the savings to optimize its current budget. The reduced spend scenario increased profits while maintaining sales


How You Can Apply Data and Profiling

Don’t let the analytics or terminology stop you from profiling, analyzing your data and conducting data mining. There are plenty of companies on standby to assist you with creating a snap shot of your best customers and best marketing approach to reach them. The best data is data that is put into use finding more great customers.


Nonprofits Use QR Codes® to Get People to Act

Nonprofits don’t have the budget of Nike so they can’t spend $300 million pushing a campaign centered on a swoosh or statement like Just Do It.

So the nonprofits that are continuing to ask, “How can we squeeze out more results on the same budget,” are turning to technology, multi-channel campaigns, and QR Codes® for additional lift.

Organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network are piloting QR Codes® to see if they can achieve better life or market penetration without adding costs. Statistics from Netwit Thinktank say these nonprofits are wise to do so:

  • In aggregate, online-acquired donors have much higher cumulative value over the long term than traditional mail-acquired donors.
  • Online giving was up 13% in 2011
  • It has become increasingly common for new donors to give their first gift online.
  • The largest amount given online in 2011 was $260,000

Big Brothers Big Sisters Embrace QR Codes in Marketing

Big Brothers Big Sisters

Big Brothers and Big Sisters in Kansas City is the top matching agency in the country yet they face the same challenge faced by each state – finding enough men to mentor boys. Currently there are more than 600 boys on the Kansas City wait list for a big brother.

To recruit more big brothers it bought “Real Men Mentor” print ads and billboard space included a QR Code® that led to information and an online volunteer application.

To BBBS’s credit, the billboards did not include a QR symbol that someone driving couldn’t scan safely any way.  In the first six weeks of the campaign, Big Brothers Big Sisters received 196 clickthroughs to its application page, according to Kristi Hutchison, BBBS Chief Marketing Officer.

Unfortunately because this is the first time they’ve used QR Codes®, whether the clickthroughs came from emails or QR scans is unknown. Hutchison says call-to-action sources will be closely tracked in the next campaign.

QR Codes and nonprofit marketingPancreatic Cancer Action Network

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PCAN) used an event awareness night at a L.A. Kings game in California as an opportunity to beta test QR effectiveness. So the “Be a Hero” flyer the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network distributed that night included two new calls to action (1) a mobile opt-in via text messaging and (2) a QR Code®.

The PCAN was wise to include some basic scanning instructions on its flyer since only 5% of Americans are using QR Codes®.

The results were about 30 people out of a 1000 opted in via text message, which was a typical response rate. However, the QR Code was scanned more than 200 times – out pulling text messaging. The QR Code® led the curious attendees to a simple page that showed them how to learn more, how to get involved, and how to find a local event they could attend.

Want to see how other nonprofits are using this technology to increase their numbers. Check out How Nonprofits Can Use QR Codes.


Will Augmented Reality Make Direct Mail the Bomb?

Augmented Reality and DIrect MarketingToday reality isn’t always wysiwyg (what you see is what you get). We have reality, virtual reality, alternate reality, digital reality and now augmented reality.  This great new tool may be on the way to helping marketers get their clients to experience a new level of reality and help drive engagement and hopefully revenue

Augmented reality is a digital layer over the real world that you can’t see with the naked eye but can see with the camera on your smart phone or computer, according to Vivian Rosenthal, founder of New York City-based AR start-up, GoldRun. Get a glimpse of Rosenthal’s use or AR in this promo (an invisible pop up store) for AirWalk sneakers.

You experience a tiny sampling of AR when you watch a televised football game. The yellow first down lines aren’t painted on the field itself, but inserted digitally to enhance your viewing experience.

A Boeing researcher introduced AR in 1990. By 2008 it was a $6 million industry and expected to grow into a $350 million industry by 2014.


AR is Legalized Steroids for Direct Mail

The movie Avatar used AR in its integrated marketing campaign to launch with Avatar teamed with Coke Zero. Movie buffs could hold their Coke can with the Avatar symbol in front of their webcams and interact with parts of the movie on a “visceral” level.

Don’t be fooled into dismissing AR as all fun and games, it offers an entirely new avenue for engagement and in particular direct mail, according to the February issue of the U.S. Postal Service’s Deliver magazine. The cover and feature article in this issue featured black and white artwork that came to life, movement, and color when you held your smart phone over the graphic after downloading the recommended app.

Taylor, one of the largest direct mail printers in the nation, used AR as the star attraction of its trade booth at the 2011 Direct Marketing Association convention in Boston. Visitors were given a postcard and sent to a special website to unlock the encoded graphics and information. Art Calamari, who manned the booth, said he watched hundreds of attendees share the technology and message with hundreds of other attendees – turning a direct mail print piece into a word of mouth brushfire.

Imagine making your direct mail even more interactive and relevant like some insurance companies have by sending out postcards with agent photos and a neat graphic that changes weekly when scanned just like a rotating billboard. The selling point is helping consumers hold on to that print piece longer as well as being moved further down the sales pipeline as the information changes.


AR is a Magnet for Millennials

Research shows that if the messaging and the experience are not engaging, and do not create brand desire, Millennials may just move on to a competitor. Millennials are defined as those born in the 1980s, whose lives revolve around being constantly connected to technology.

One successful augmented reality iPhone app that attracts Millenials is Le Bar Guide. Using GPS data, the technology locks onto a location serving the popular Belgian beer, Stella Artois, by populating the phone with directional arrows pointing users to the nearest pub that serves it.


Can You Afford Augmented Reality Marketing?

According to Rosenthal, AR campaigns can be as inexpensive as $5,000 and as high as $100,000. She compares costs with full-page magazine print ads, which start at $100,000 in major magazines based on cost per thousand readers or as high as $400,000 for a one-page ad in the coveted Sports Illustrated issue.

As part of a vacation promotion for Snow Mass Ski Slopes, three-dimensional renderings necessary for the AR campaign ran approximately $10,000.

Regardless, the spend definitely can be tied to customer engagement, acquisition, and retention thanks to the measurability of the interactivity and technology.

If the numbers work and the medium directly aligns with your target market, then executing an augmented reality campaign can both bring home the bacon and establish your company as an innovation leader.

The Offering Plate at Churches Turns Digital

The Da Vinci Code took the world by storm in 2003 grossing $758 million worldwide at the box office. Also seeking higher numbers, churches are turning to QR Codes® in an effort to increase donations and tithing.

Do you see the irony in the movie’s star character Robert Langdon being a symbologist and the possible saving grace for churches today being a QR Code®? Perhaps history does repeat itself.

QR Codes

Recession Causes Churches to Adopt High Tech Donation Practices

According to the Religion News Service, the recession has caused church contributions to drop by $1.2 billion even though membership remains relatively the same.

Unity Temple on the Plaza is run by an old-school board that is willing to try new-school things when it comes to raising income for the church. The board at Unity knew that statistically donations tend to increase about 15% with churches that offer online donations to its congregations or parishioners (through QR links or direct web access).

Unity’s bulletin announcement below simply directed people after the service to its Tech Table to learn how they could make donations quickly and easily by swiping the QR Code® in the bulletin or posted in the temple.

If passing the plate is coming in light on funds, perhaps QR code® swipes will stimulate more generous giving because it’s quicker, easier, and perhaps an electronic way to amp up generosity.  And let’s face it more and more people live a credit or debit card life.


More Ways to Incorporate QR Codes into Your House of Worship (or business)QR Church 250x216 The Offering Plate at Churches Turns Digital

1.  Save space. Put a QR Code® next to each bulletin item to save space by directing members to links for more information.

2.  Provide a digital bulletin. Put the bulletin info on the website and place QR Codes® on signage leading into the service area. Allow parishioners to access information in the way they desire.

3.  Attract attendees. If your church building has different rooms for different ministries such as AA meetings, put QR Codes® on the signs outside the door that links to info about that ministry, meeting, or specific event schedule.

4.  Attract new members. Use QR or other 2d mobile barcodes on coffee mugs to give first-time visitors or on t-shirts for the youth group wear with text that says “Got God?”

5.  Reinforce the message. Savvy ministers and pastors are linking members and guests to the sermon notes through QR Codes® that lead to a podcast, video, or blog post.

Has your church or temple used integrated marketing, including QR Codes® in its communications or marketing materials? How about in its alternative methods to tithe?  Perhaps you can volunteer to assist them in this new terrain. It can be part of your pro bono contribution to help close the gap on diminishing returns in this recession.


Mail Print Awarded for Consistently Achieving Measurable Results

variable data printing and market automationLike a dedicated Olympian, we trained, we performed, and we took home two Gold and one Silver awards this March in the Kansas City Direct Marketing Association’s equivalent to the Olympics – The Ambit Awards. (Ambit stands for AMBITious Achievement.)

Our fingers are sore from constantly pushing the envelope and tabulating campaign measurement metrics, but that’s what we do best – create measurable results for our clients. We’re even more proud of the fourth and most prestigious Ambit that we took home this year – The Consistent Achiever Award.

Only one Consistent Achiever Award is given each year and we will display this one front and center in our lobby to underscore the consistent results we continue to deliver for our client Assurant Employee Benefits. Each month we automate, print, and distribute catalogs for Assurant with the most complicated variables any VDP printer in the country can produce error-free thanks in part to market automation. We have done so for the past two years and will press on doing so consistently.

Which leads me to a key point I want to make in this blog:  What Sets Winning Companies Apart. From the outside some may see Mail Print as a quiet multi-channel solutions provide or data-driven niche printer. However, that’s not the full story. If you were to tour our office and production facility, you’d see something the equivalent of Santa’s workshop the week of Christmas every day. But what really sets us apart according to a Forbes articles, especially in this economy, is for two decades we have consistently done three things right (1) Kept our eye on growth (2) Pursued new technology and innovation just like adding our HP T200 press this year (3) Turned information into insight.

How are you doing in those areas? Share your comments so we can start a discussion. Until then, join us in raising your coffee mugs in celebration of the Ambit awards we received for consistent results below.


Mail Print Takes Home 4 Ambits

Business Integrated Marketing — Connect Magazine (SILVER AMBIT)

To further establish Mail Print as a thought leader in the direct marketing industry and to demonstrate our belief in the ROI of direct mail, Mail Print launches Connect Magazine. A 16-page print magazine designed to present key information from Mail Print’s existing materials that are easily digestible and helpful to top-level business people. The feature articles are based around direct marketing strategy and innovative marketing approaches. Content encourages clients and prospects to learn more by visiting the Mail Print blog or website.

In 2011, Mail Print attributed $1.3 million in new business and new opportunities to Connect for a return on investment of $41 for every $1 spent on the magazine.

Business Catalogs — Assurant Personalized Benefits Catalog (GOLD AMBIT & CONSISTENT ACHIEVER AWARD)

To solve the problem of generically explaining benefits vs. speaking directly to each employee with information that applied to them, Assurant Employee Benefits needed to move from static benefits materials into personalized insurance catalogs.

Mail Print developed a print automation system that produces flawless, personalized catalogs that customized to the individual’s age, gender, geographical location, and salary — resulting in a simplified selection process for the employee that requires no need for calculations and interpretations to demine their rate. In addition:

  • The purchase rate of voluntary benefits rose 5% after implementation.
  • Catalogs were produced in 24-hour timeframe vs. 7-10 days.
  • As of the end of 2011, more than 180,000 catalogs for more than 1,100 client companies have been produced that are error-free.
  • Mail Print saved Assurant Employee benefits over $200,000 by implementing the right process and eliminating wasteful spending.

Fundraising —  Harvester’s Donor Receipt Program (GOLD AMBIT)

Acknowledging 72,000 donations a year with tax-required donor receipts via mail is no small task. Harvesters was spending in excess of a half work week each month trying to stay on top of the endless task, which was marred with duplicate mailings coming from multiple systems and a slow turn of up to three weeks to get in the hands of generous donors.

Mail Print automated the process by uploading the data, de-duping the data and sending out personalized letters with additional donation request within 48 hours. The results were a 54% increase in second-time donations, an 11% response rate, and a return on investment of 1597% with the $688,930 of additional donations brought in.

Personalized Marketing: Beyond the Name Game

**This is a re-post from Mail Print’s early days of blogging.  Our readership has grown quite a bit since then, so I wanted to resurrect an early post.  Enjoy!

Using the recipient’s name is an easy way to make your direct mail and email marketing relevant to the recipient, but I am often asked, “How do I use my data to create a more personalized direct marketing experience?”

The answer lies in using your data. I know many people have a hard time making the connection between “using data” and how that translates into variable direct marketing, so let’s look at some examples:

1) Getting people to interact with your web site is great, but making them search for information that you should already know… not cool.  (And not personalized or relevant.)

In the personalized email below, you’ll see all the variable information highlighted, including the location, price, discounted savings, show logos, dates and even a Personalized URL  The recipient doesn’t have to go to a web site and then search for the information that applies to them.

Variable Data Print Piece, VDP

By the way the video that plays at the Personalized URL, is a variable video.  The only video that plays is the one for the location of the recipient.  They don’t have to select or weed through the videos of shows that aren’t coming to their area.  Check it out at:

2) Write copy for each audience as if you were speaking directly to a recipient within that audience.

The example below is tailored to families.   The variable data in it speaks specifically to the amenities that a family will value, not to singles or seniors, and it certainly doesn’t try to address all the audiences at the same time.

Variable Data, VDP

3) Location, location, location. When proximity is important, tell them just how close they are.

Variable Data Printing, VDP

4) All customers are not created equal, so why would you offer them all the same thing?

Variable Data Printing, VDP

5) If nothing else, always use their name.

It’s easy to get creative with imagery, but don’t forget basic copywriting techniques, like using their name within the text.

variable data
MPvday Personalized Marketing: Beyond the Name Game
MJBank1 Personalized Marketing: Beyond the Name Game
ESemail Personalized Marketing: Beyond the Name Game
MarathonPC1 Personalized Marketing: Beyond the Name Game

6) And finally…

Just for fun, the piece below contains over 75 variables to make the direct mail piece relevant to the recipient.  Can you find them all?  I’ll give you a hint… there is variable copy within variable copy.

Variable Data Printing, VDP

Using variable data in mail, email and personalized web pages becomes much easier when you understand how to apply what you already know to create relevant marketing materials.  The significant improvement in response and purchase rates makes it well worth the effort.