You can only personalize a direct mail piece when you know something personal about the recipient.
Let’s say you’re mailing to 3,000 people who meet the criteria that you and Agency Access have carefully identified. These are potentially warm prospects. But it would not be practical to do further research on 3,000 prospects. To a large extent, knowing about your audience and sending relevant direct mail promotions is a form of targeting – but targeting is not necessarily personalizing.
Within the larger targeted mailing list, you could research a hundred people whom you believe can give you what you want. Many have LinkedIn and other social network profiles where you may find work histories, special interests, awards, articles, etc. You may find out what campaigns a prospect worked on. You may actually develop a dossier on them.
Inexpensive, executable ways to personalize direct mail pieces include:
In today’s world of digital labeling, which is obviously more economical and efficient, a handwritten address is likely to stand out. This may be labor-intensive, and is likely feasible with only a small segment of your list.
One of the most difficult obstacles in direct mail is getting your envelope opened and getting your piece looked at – and hopefully saved, so a prospect remembers to include you next time he or she is searching for photographer. So, provide them something that stands out, and shows you to be relevant to their creative solution.
On a personal note…
Form letters are never personal, even if you’re able to use their first name in the greeting (that is expected). So you might try a personal note. I like the handwritten note on a Post-it, with no more than a sentence that lets the prospect know that you know who they are.
Be careful! Don’t refer to what they’re working on, since this business moves quickly and by the time they get your mail, they may not still be on that account, or perhaps the campaign has changed and you haven’t seen the new work. Remember, this is a volatile industry and second-guessing is a flawed and risky approach.
If a prospect is winning awards and selling lots more widgets and is working with a favorite photographer, don’t go after a specific account. He or she is likely to be working on several accounts, so in your note, instead of expressing a desire to work on a specific account, refer to working with them because they represent excellence in general. And make it personal!
After every portfolio presentation, ask for referrals (this is another full topic). Write a note on your Post-it, something like, “Bob Smith thought you and I ought to get to know each other.”
I like the idea of creating promotions that buck technology. Years ago, I encouraged a photographer to create personalized notepaper pads with the printed header: From the Desk of (recipient’s name). The photographer included an inexpensive fountain pen which the photographer used to write a note to the prospect on the first page of the pad. The pad accompanied images the same size as the note pad. Can you get more personal than this?
These tips are only points of departure. Be as creative with your promotions as you are making photographs. Come from a place of passion. It will be felt.
Ian offers teleconferences, workshops and career coaching to a wide range of artists. He’s created a new 2-day offering called The Heartstorming Career Redirection Workshop, which is based on the concept that our passions remain more or less the same throughout our careers, however it is vital to take new actions to bring them into being. Heartstorming
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