The picture of sales success

Q: How can a company successfully market through this recession?

A: I am firm believer that you should not cut the marketing budget in times like these. But you should be looking at it very closely, and have a very focused game plan and have a goal in mind and go after that goal. Sometimes, though, it’s the reality that marketing budgets will be cut. We work quite a bit with businesses that have large marketing budgets and those who don’t.

Q: What would you suggest to marketers who might be facing these cuts?

A: The key to remember is that market­ing doesn’t always have to be about sell­ing something. If you can get your name out and make people feel good about receiving your message, then people will remember it. Those are the kinds of things that have staying power. Busi­nesses are using things like personalized URLs and targeted messages, but you can take it a step further and use picture personalization, [which includes creative tactics] such as using items in an image to spell out the recipient’s name.

Q: How can using personalized images help achieve that kind of reaction?

A: It really tends to make a piece stand out from the crowd. The rate of re­sponse and the metrics we use all show that. To effectively use it, you truly have to be sure that you have a specific targeted audience with a very, very tar­geted message. I would rather see a very targeted message sent to a smaller group of people rather than a blanket message sent to a larger group of people.

Q: Why is picture personalization effective?

A: That’s kind of getting into the realm of psychology. It’s really emotional mar­keting. It’s a feel-good, put-a-smile-on-your-face kind of marketing. It’s similar to seeing someone in the street and shaking their hand — it’s an emotional event. If you spell a name out in an image, and if it is done cleverly and cre­atively, it’s different than most mail or e-mail we’re used to seeing. It’s the kind of marketing that has staying power.

Q: How can this be done in direct mail?

A: Let’s say you receive a postcard, and it’s an image with your name spelled out, and above it is copy with the marketing message you are trying to send, and there’s also a call to action. That is very effective. The response rates show it. When we use picture personalization, we use copy in a very minimal form. We don’t like to overkill the piece with copy, we would rather let the image tell the story. And, there’s a wide range of things you can do. As long as the piece can come off a digital press, you can do a lot of different types of mailings.

Q: Considering the cost associated with direct mail, do you see more companies investing in online and digital forms?

A: I am seeing a combination of all those media. Maybe starting off with a direct mail piece directing someone to a Web site, and following it up with an e-mail. Some companies go even further and follow up with a text message. I really don’t see it heavily swayed one way or another. You can use image personalization in all those media and be successful.

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