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Direct Mail Personalization and Emotional Insight

Last night I received a new customer mailing from an automotive service chain that I've frequented quite a few times over the past year. The mail piece contains all of the recommended features for a new member, retail loyalty mailing:

  1. It welcomes me to the branded club
  2. It has a perceived production value that exceeds the average direct mail piece
  3. It is personalized with my first name
  4. It references the local shop and manager
  5. It outlines the benefits of being a club member
  6. It includes a membership card
  7. It contains coupons to drive my next visit

However, the message within the piece may not have elicited the expected response. I was congratulated on the amount that I spent and invited to visit again. Now, outside of the enthusiast segment, car repairs are not a recreational spend for most individuals. But, in my case, the repair process that finally ended at this shop was a long, painful journey. While this chain did finally resolve the issue and did a wonderful job, the mail piece regenerated the negative experience rather than highlighting the positive results. In this case, they should have focused on the solution that they provided rather than the dollars that I spent.

This reaction could have been averted with the addition of one profile attribute: the reason for the visit. Since this retailer connects their point-of-sale terminal to the database, collecting this data point could be a simple pre-scored entry by the employee. For businesses that do not have this point-of-sale function, qualitative scoring models can be utilized to vastly improve the personalization of their mail pieces. No matter how this process is implemented, leveraging psychographics to create better customer profiles enhances interactions and when properly executed, strengthens the relationship between the customer and the brand.