Monday, November 28, 2011

Personalized Flyers: Direct Mail Catalogs without the Postage

Can we do direct mail without postage?

A recent discussion about integrating items promoted in a retail flyer into a direct mail/email piece - "this weeks' special chosen for you"-  gave way to a broader discussion when we realized that we could possibly take this idea one step further and create completely personalized flyers.  

Imagine the MUST-HAVES  listed below being selected based on where you live and what you've bought…. (image from the work done for Sears Canada by our sister group Totem).  To do that requires integrating three distinct marketing silos - digital promotions, direct-to-consumer marketing, and the database groups.     

Assumptions about the business functions: 
  • "Digital Promotions" typically manages the assets of a retailer's flyers.   The weekly circular is deconstructed and stored as a set of offers that can be served up to any number of delivery systems.  
  • "Direct-to-consumer programs" uses a high degree of personalization and customization to tailor email and direct mail to make it more interesting.   
  • "Database Group" often integrates various sources of data - internal and external - so that we can pick lists of people based on a wide number of characteristics and behavior.  It often incorporates sophisticated analytics (see Sagarmatha as an example) to align offer and consumer.
What if we combined the three functions?   What if we re-conceived the whole process and thought about a flyer as a form of direct communication to a household first and a distribution challenge second?

Basically, how can we do direct mail without the postage in order to deliver customized catalogs?

Today, retailers can:
  • Handle zone pricing and other distribution options, which effectively creates target groups. 
  • Map out multichannel communications and use business rules to populate various panels with different content.
  • Infer interest of an individual or postal area based on a wide variety of information derived from any manner of data - consumption and descriptive.
  • Integrate loyalty, transaction data into the process of defining a communication.
  • Serve up assets to personal communications that are described by a set of meta data, e.g. ad size, category and brand.
  • Interface the resulting packet of direct-to-consumer communications with both print and electronic distribution mechanisms. 
Based on the above, it appears we could:
  • Develop postal/zone/carrier route specific flyers for printing and distribution based on characteristics of people who live on the route itself.
  • Simultaneously tailor personal communication based on behavior (or lack of it) using the most appropriate subset of flyer elements.
  • Incorporate other interesting content into both the flyer and email/direct mail.
If we believe that relevant trumps generic then it seems that only silos are in the way of surrounding consumers with interesting content. 

1 comment:

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