Personalize your marketing

Jan 13, 2020

In this digital era of PURLs, OKRs, and java scripts, a dimensional mailer and handwritten note are still the best way to grab attention.

Just last week, I attended a one-day marketing event. The breakouts were wide ranging and motivating. Topics covered ways to write stronger copy, how and when to use open thinking versus closed thinking, techniques for getting and keeping attention – a feast for marketing professionals!

Another topic was marketing personalization. This session turned out to be high tech, discussing the nuts and bolts of a campaign that was personalized from end-to-end. The anachronisms and initialisms were flying. The overall concept – personalizing your marketing – took on increasingly strange form when talk of java scripts, PURLs, and OKRs/KPIs took center stage.

However, when it got right down to it and the digital secrets were revealed, the core of the campaign – the attention grabber – was startlingly basic: A dimensional mailer and a handwritten note.


We walk around with handheld computers in our pockets or palms for almost all of our waking hours. Our keyboard skills are manic, whether we took a high school typing course or not. Many of our daily activities involve interactions with screens. Not just work activities, but life activities as well.

Yet, we are still human.

Our reading comprehension is better if we are reading from paper, not a screen. If you want proof, ironically, you can Google it. Browse the plethora of articles. But if you want to really take in the content, print it out to read it.

We humans take in more when we get the full experience, when we hold things in our hands, and turn the page – when we can read with more than our eyes.

And we are curious.

Dimensional mail with its odd size and shape almost always rises to the top of the “open me” pile. And rarely is it discarded – like so many other direct mail pieces in plain white envelopes. Industry studies report a nearly 100 percent open rate for dimensional mail.

Because whether B2B or B2C, it comes down to B2H where the H stands for human. People.

Who are your humans? Who are the people you want to reach with your marketing?

By starting with this question, you can develop the most effective marketing outreach of your career. It is target marketing with a twist. And it is not one-size-fits-all.

Hopefully you already have your target markets defined. These are the consumer or business groups that are the aim of your services. Maybe it’s the education market. Perhaps you refine that a bit more and focus on K-12 schools. Or you go even further than that to private K-12 schools. Moreover, you focus on private K-12 schools within a defined geographic region.

Which is great. But it is not enough information.

Who are the humans? This answer informs the core of your marketing personalization.

Back to our example from the marketing conference. This firm had a database of more than 9,000 contacts. For their high-tech, personalized campaign, they narrowed that list down to 492.

The criteria they used to winnow down the list included job titles, past purchase decisions, and length of time in a specific role. This is classic market segmentation.

If you haven’t thought about market segmentation in a while, it is worth revisiting. There are many ways to segment markets. Some common ways are by geographic, demographic, psychographic, and behavioral means. But even classic marketing texts speak to our question – who are the humans? – by stating “the most specific form of market segmentation is to consider each buyer a market segment.”

Do you know what the most beautiful sound is in any language? According to Dale Carnegie, “a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” He was a master of business-to-human exchange since 1936 (the publication year of How to Win Friends and Influence People).

None of this is new, but it is true. It’s not easy, but it is effective. B2H – you should try it.

Jane Lawler Smith, MBA, is the marketing manager at Derck & Edson, LLC. She can be reached at

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.