Nothing tells me I am least valued more than when someone addresses me as a “valued customer”. This is arguably one of the worst salutations a direct mail writer has ever scribed. I would respond more favourably to “Hey you!”
There was a time when ‘Dear Valued Customer” was the best technology would allow. In direct mail marketing, mail merge didn’t arrive until about 1980. Wait a minute….that was over thirty-five years ago, the last year the planet was graced with the Ford Pinto, a car with the unique feature of blowing up when rear ended. A lot has happened since cars blew up when rear-ended, especially in mail merge technology.
In direct mail, or as a friend of mine calls it, “Dreck Mail” they took advantage of mail merge and laser printing to customize even the outside of the envelope. “Bob, we have a special offer inside just for you!” and other such lies.
Today, most mail at least has the courtesy to address you by name. Some try to be warm and personal, “Dear William” while others, like banks, feel it appropriate to be more formal, “Dear Mr. Lower”. Of course, I have a trick up my sleeve. You see, I write and sign “William” but conversationally, I go by Bill. Rarely do I receive an unsolicited piece of direct mail or email with the salutation, “Dear Bill” but those I read because I figure somehow they know me.
In today’s world of data mining, it is not hard to know a lot about your customer or potential customer. People who believe privacy still exists are also prone to looking under their pillow to see if the tooth fairy left them anything.
Having jollies playing some of those free games on Facebook? “Which famous author are you like?” (I got Salinger, my favourite author which freaked me out and I never played another game). But with that game went data. My data. That it took Zuckerberg so long to figure out what to do with all his data astounds me. Advertisers live and die based on consumer knowledge and insights.
I’m surprised I have not received some form of communication saying, “If you’re like Salinger, you’re going to love these widgets.”
Data reveals when we like to shop, how we like to shop, where we like to shop, whether we do online shopping through our computer, tablet or smartphone. It will reveal our favourite colours, our psychic make up (keep playing those free games) as well as the garden variety demographics that was all advertising agencies had to go on at one time.
Collecting data is not just for advertisers with big budgets and the manpower to create all the relevant subsets. Even small retailers can take advantage of the available technology whether they are sending Dreck mail or eDreck mail.
There is a small pizza place in my neighbourhood with an interesting business model. They prepare the pizzas but don’t cook them. You pick them up and bake them at home. They’re fresher, taste better and because they are not cooked food, you don’t pay tax. You are buying ingredients. They started collecting emails, and use them judiciously with relevant offers. And never once do they refer to me as a ‘valued customer’.
If a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint can figure this out, surely companies with a marketing staff can, too.
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