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Personalization personified in mailer where Rugman cometh and grabbeth

My husband and I collect beautiful rugs, including our prized “Kerman,” purchased from Area Rugs by Rugman. Imagine my shock back in 2006 to see our very own luscious Kerman rug featured on the cover of a tabbed self-mailer.

I’m pretty accustomed to the wizardry of variable data printing (VDP) and imaging. But have you noticed that, somehow, we direct marketers never seem to receive variably printed mail ourselves? We are — as they say — like the doctor whose kids always get sick or the bridesmaid who never gets married. We produce it, but we don’t receive it. Still, this little rug with my husband’s name printed front and center had the potential to hit me where it hurts – in the wallet.

As soon as I saw the mailer, I knew my husband’s weakness for rugs would be visited upon us. I even contemplated throwing out the mailer, because I knew he wouldn’t be able to resist a classy rug with his name written all over it. But how could I throw away a lonely Kerman, looking for a companion?

You might think that watching tons of VDP brochures bounce off the iGen would have immunized me to the personal pitch. Not so. The consumer in me just thought it was very cool.

Later, the sight of little Kerman, sitting alone in the hallway, made the urge to buy a companion almost overwhelming. Meanwhile, I also wondered if the 15% discount was a special price just for Scott and me. That’s when my curiosity — and the direct marketer in me — sent me back to scour the entire mailer to see what else the Rugman might have done “just for us.”

To their greatest credit, the Rugman recognized us as past customers, which was persuasive in and of itself. I did notice that the image of the rug was low-res, pixelated, and confined to a box that crowded our prize into a space with inaccurate dimensions. As a graphic designer, that oversight would normally have seriously offended me, but as a direct marketer, I was more impressed that the Rugman had featured an image I could immediately recognize.

Sure, they could have used more personalization, but this mailer did do the trick: it broke through my filter to snag my attention as a consumer.

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