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Direct Response Marketing

In Print: You've Got Their Information, Now Get Their Attention

1 Jun, 2009 By: Mike Maguire Response

As early as 1993, direct marketing visionaries Don Peppers and Martha Rogers articulated the promise and vision of one-to-one direct marketing. They spoke of "High Impact Customer Interaction" and the need to engage clients and prospects in a meaningful two-way dialog.

Mike Maguire
Mike Maguire

Some say that one-to-one marketing is past its prime; today is really about Web 2.0, social media and a search process that allows clients and prospects engage marketers on their terms in channels they choose, when they choose to. This is not entirely true. Given the advances in electronic media, targeting capabilities and variable print media, the promise of integrated direct marketing is only now being realized.

How do you get a prospect's attention when they are being bombarded with more than 3,000 branded marketing messages per day? Seeing, touching, hearing and, yes, even smelling and tasting, are now part of the marketer's toolbox. And marketers can take this a step further to enhance the tactile experience by pairing it with high-impact formats.

Go Customized Dimensional

The effectiveness of customized variable print marketing tools is long established. A recent study showed that variable date-printed output generated 21-percent higher response, lowered cost-per-response by 54 percent and generated a 93-percent average increase in sales, compared to non-customized printed output.

Over the years, dimensional formats such as boxes, pop-ups, lights, sound and tactile surfaces have a proven ability to trigger emotion, break through the clutter and increase recall. Most of us have experienced the surprise of opening a direct mail piece that suddenly pops up into a cube via a rubber band mechanism. Imagine each panel of that cube containing customized images and content specifically targeted to your preferences, demographics and choices. What if it contained a personalized URL (pURL) or other custom content to drive the recipient to the Web for more information or continued dialog?

Watching the Wallet

The first step in cost-effective execution is to make sure you are targeting well and only fishing where the biggest fish are. Mailing a great one-to-one piece to the wrong target will drag down your ROI. On the production side, consider postal costs right up front in the design process.

Digital print technology can also be combined with conventional print to create a hybrid. In this case, a standard part of the one-to-one package can be printed conventionally, preassembled and stored for later use. Customized, one-to-one components are designed into the package and executed on-demand.

The Who and the When

When does it make the most sense to use a high-impact digital format? The short answer is: when you have a very good understanding of your target's preferences; you are confident your data is sound; and you understand the value of securing or retaining this customer relationship. Tactically, these formats are effective when you're trying to reach a highly protected target or a buying cell that includes several people (an IT department and the CTO).

They work very well when the mission is to drive a target online and to engage in an ongoing dialog that is part of a longer, high-value selling process. This is another instance where, in particular, pURLs can be utilized with great success.

The 3 Most Important Letters: ROI

We all understand it is critical to use scarce marketing dollars wisely. If there is any silver lining to our current market climate, it may be that we are actually putting ROI principles into action and getting pretty good at it. Marketers should look at building ROI as a process. Effective integrated direct marketing is a series of linked, targeted executions followed by feedback, measurement, re-evaluation, adjustment and re-execution. As a measurement, ROI is a lagging indicator — how much did we spend and how much did we get in return? Since direct marketing is a dynamic, ongoing process, we also need to develop our own internal leading indicators and measure them. ?

Mike Maguire is the CEO of Structural Graphics, the leader in design and production of high-impact dimensional marketing solutions. For more information visit

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