Retailers Rarely Send Truly Personalized Mailings To Individual Customers.
Personalized/customized/one-on-one marketing is today another MC (“marketing correct”) thing to do. If you’re not doing it, the best thing to do is to say you’re doing it. If we had $1000 for every brand manager who has told us during the past three years that his or her company engages in personalized marketing, we could retire early.
We don’t know of any marketer who is actually doing it. Since the “truth” here is going to upset more than a few execs, we had better be very specific. By personalized/customized/one-on-one marketing we mean a marketing program directed to individual customers with each individual treated differently, treated as if the marketer had only one customer. Consider the following letter:
Dear Mr. Brady:
I would like to remind you that your wife Giselle’s birthday is coming up in two weeks on February 12th, and we have the perfect gift for her in stock.
As you know, she loves DKNY clothing, and we have an absolutely beautiful new fall suit in a magenta red, her favorite color, in a seven, her size, priced below the typical retail value of $850 at $700. Believe me, she will look simply stunning!
If you like, I can gift-wrap the suit at no extra charge and mail it to you next week, so that you will have it in plenty of time for her birthday. Or if you like, I can put it aside so that you can come in to pick it up. Please give me a call within the next 48 hours to let me know which you prefer.
In any event, I appreciate your business and hope to hear room you soon.
Personal Shopper - Manager
Saks Fifth Avenue
This letter contains a great deal of information about Tom Brady and new bride. Not just the name and address, which many marketers have today, but preferred brand, color, size, occasion, position, etc. Was this letter actually composed by Connie Lester, the personal shopper? No, it was written by a new computer program. But Connie does sign it, and she will follow up.
How does this compare to what managers are calling “personalized marketing programs today?
Some firms say they’re doing personalized marketing if they can get a name and address correct. They are candidates for the 1975 Marketing Hall of Fame.
Other more sophisticated marketers are taking their customer lists and segmenting them into different typologies using a statistical tool called cluster analysis. As a result, they are able to send mailings to 3 or 5 or maybe even 20 different types of people.
These marketers are candidates for The 1985 Marketing Hall of Fame, still far from the leading edge of our discipline.
The future lies in truly individual, customer-centered communications programs, and most major marketers don’t even know what this means.