You don’t need to mail a printed brochure to everyone on your list


Wow, that is a bold statement, right?

We all know that printed brochures are a time-intensive and costly undertaking.  From the graphic design costs to printing and postage, depending on your list size, just one mailing could cost you 5 figures.

And do you really get a high enough ROI off of that brochure alone to warrant mailing it to your entire list?

If you do, AWESOME!  Congratulations!

If you don’t or don’t know, we’ve got some suggestions on how to segment your list so that you only print and mail brochures to the people who will really convert from them.

  1. Ask your patrons how they would prefer to receive information about your organization and note it in your CRM system.  Each time you do a mailing, only mail to those who have specifically said that they want to receive printed materials.
  2. Segment via demographic data who might want to receive a printed brochure and send an email series to the rest.  You can use software like ours (PatronLink 360) to determine age and other information about your patrons and then only mail to those who you feel would prefer printed materials.
  3. Only mail to patrons for whom you don’t have an email address. If you have an email address, you can email them a series of messages over time about your season in place of a brochure.  You can also load those email addresses into Facebook and create a Custom Audience and show them content that they would be interested in.

Printed collateral materials certainly aren’t dead. However, you can save time and money as well as increase their efficacy by only mailing to the right people at the right time.

Would you like more information about how we can help segment your list?  Contact us. We’d love to chat!

Are You Fall Cleaning your house…files?

Time for Fall Cleaning

Growing up in an Italian family, the ritual of spring and fall cleaning seemed to respectfully greet the approaching season. Spring hinted at the upcoming summer, a time to put on your shorts, picnic, and re-engage with friends. Fall on the other hand, signaled cooler, shorter days were ahead. Wool sweaters came out of storage, heavier drapes were re-hung, and carpets were put back on the floor to warm chilly feet. This daunting task of cleaning was lessoned since all of my Aunts pitched in to help each other get their houses cleaned. Judging by their laughter, they seemed to enjoy their time together. And who doesn’t enjoy a clean house!

Fall is also a good time to clean your mailing lists as many venues gear up for a busy season.

Typically, data gets dirty because transactional purchasing databases are designed to connect online sales via a shopping cart, retail sales Point of Sale, to credit card processing and inventory. However, these portals often lack the additional software that automatically corrects addresses, including email addresses, during the input process. Without address correction software, incorrect data eventually contributes to data quality problems.

Some of the most common input problems we encounter are inconsistent formatting, foreign addresses, carriage returns, Cyrillic scripts, false addresses, house accounts, unknown codes, and missing data. Our typical processes are:

  1. to run scripts to remove the show stoppers mentioned above;
  2. household the data (meaning putting together all the data for a household);
  3. standardize the address, city, state, and zip;
  4. append if necessary to increase insights;
  5. visualize the data into categories such as income, gender, education etc;
  6. model the data.

Cleaning the data takes the most time in the analysis process. Based on the amount of data, it can take days to months. If you don’t take the time, you may have incorrectly analyzed a problem or solution. This will surface in all sorts of ways from the wrong product fit, incorrect pricing, low marketing campaign ROI, and brand defection. Simple, Garbage in will produce garbage out. Good examples of product failures are Google Glass, HP’s Touch Pad Tablets, and Microsoft Zune.

If you do not have a data strategy in place, now is a good time to create one with your cross functional teams. Be sure to include:

  • Data input guidelines
  • Data refresh schedule
  • How to handle incorrect or dirty data

Similar to my families cleaning rituals let PatronLink do your heavy cleaning…of your data. In fact, it will cost much and be cleaner than hiring any house cleaning service. While we do the work, you can enjoy a festive pumpkin drink at your local coffee shop.

Forget content, relevance is king

This post is an excerpt from the book Precision Marketing.

The relevance requirement

Market research demonstrates that consumer attention and interest are directly proportional to the salience of the message. The more compelling, valuable and relevant you make your messages and offers, the more impactful the messages become – and the more likely it is that your prospective and existing customers will respond. As you present your brand in increasingly relevant ways, you drive increases in revenue, response and, ultimately, return on investment (ROI).

Relevance, in other words, is now a requirement for marketing success. Yet marketers continue to lag in acting upon the urgent need to align market- ing and messaging to be relevant to their customers. When this is the case, marketers are putting their companies – and their jobs – in jeopardy. They are pursuing obsolete marketing approaches even as the outcomes associated with those approaches are clearly in decline.

Customers have growing power, leverage and influence. They have become adept at tuning out the irrelevant, and they are unwilling to listen to messages that don’t matter to them.

That consumers are tuning out noise is obvious. Not only is this claim validated by research, but also it resonates with personal experience. People are more likely to pay attention to a message that speaks directly to their own personal concerns and desires than to a message that speaks blandly and broadly to a mass audience of which they happen to be part.

How to capitalize on this nding, however, is much less obvious.

The power of Precision Marketing

As we see it, marketers are now challenged to engage their customers on a new and relevant level. This is where the definition and concept of Precision Marketing gain momentum. Precision Marketing is a process that, if followed with the key building blocks described in this book, gives marketers the insights into customer behaviours that let them talk with customers in a relevant manner. The Precision Marketing framework relies heavily on several key factors, the 1st of which is the collection and analysis of data. Marketers are no longer in a position where they can randomly create interesting advertising campaigns; they must be aware of their customers and talk directly to them or risk driving them away. Marketers must create actionable customer insights to accomplish this objective. Collecting the customer data that give marketers the information they need to build strategies framed on Precision Marketing customer insights is imperative to enable this objective. Data enable action- able insights. Consumers who are overwhelmed with irrelevant offers and messaging are less likely to deal with companies that don’t know them.

Marketers cannot produce compelling messages in a vacuum. Rather, they must now employ customer insights to ensure that their communications are aligned with the preferences and priorities of their customers. Marketers must also learn to integrate their messages within an overall mix of channels – a mix that encompasses everything from direct mail to social media to mobile communication.

So why aren’t more marketers implementing Precision Marketing today? On the basis of our work with numerous companies, we believe there are three key challenges to overcome:

  1. The 1st challenge is collecting the correct data. Approximately 70% of marketers gather only demographic and location data,9 which is not enough, because not all 40-year-old women in San Francisco are the same. Demographics and location by themselves are too imprecise. Today’s critical insights must be drawn from such factors as customer preferences and behaviours; unfortunately these data points are obtained by a much lower percentage of marketers.
  2. The second challenge is to act on the customer data that has been collected. Some marketers today may be collecting voluminous amounts of data, but they are often not aggregating and analysing that data to generate actionable insights. It is not enough for marketers to know what their customers prefer; marketers have to be able to predict their customers’ needs and propensity to purchase.
  3. The third challenge is execution and measuring results in order to test predictions. Here is where relevance plays a key role. Marketers must utilize highly relevant messaging and offers aligned to target customer segments. In addition, they must measure who converted, who did not, and, most importantly, why.

From our work with recognized firms in sectors such as banking, finance, telecommunications, insurance, publishing, hospitality and utilities, we have proved the power of Precision Marketing in real-world implementations across geographies, industries and applications. As advisers on marketing approaches to maximize customer engagement, we have learned how to meet these challenges and identify new growth opportunities. Our approach, which we call Precision Marketing, has produced extraordinary results for our clients in areas such as revenue, retention and ROI.

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The Tony’s Effect


The American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards are arguably the most magical, high-quality television viewing experience every year. For those already in the know, they get to enjoy the satisfaction of seeing incredible productions shared with all the world and cheer for their favorites, celebrating victories or arguing unjust losses. For those who don’t partake in the arts very often, it’s an eye-opening view into an entirely new, wonderful entertainment experience, often sparking a lifetime interest. It’s kind of like the Super Bowl for Broadway lovers.

Beyond the night itself are the memories that viewers take with them. Months and years later, people remember a high-energy or heart-wrenching performance they saw unwind on the Tony’s stage. Many of us still remember a song we saw performed when we were quite young, amazed at the caliber of talent being displayed. It’s not just one night of entertainment; it sticks with you.

So, just for fun, we’re taking a look to see if the Broadway Box Office shows any signs of a connection to that magical night each year. Similar to the Oscars, one would expect the winners to see a rise in popularity, but what about the losers?

This year’s ceremony was on June 7th. In the weeks prior, attendance could be seen building for several high-buzz contenders. As a matter of fact, thirteen of 31 shows grossed $1 million or more, including An American in Paris, Something Rotten!, The King and I, and The Audience. Even smaller venue contenders saw a bump, like Fun Home and Hand to God (which saw an 89% filling of the seats for the week). As buzz rises, so does attendance, so it seems.

That’s not to say that all shows saw great numbers. Gigi, The Visit, Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2, and even On the Town all had quite low percentages of potential. With the exception of Best Costume Design for Wolf Hall, perhaps we can look to the box office takes when making our own Tony predictions.

But, what about after the awards were handed out? Let’s just say that June saw tons and tons of sold out shows, particularly for The Audience, which ended its run on an ever-present high note. The numbers grew steadily (but not for all Broadway shows; many nominees and all winners saw increases) and seemed to feed off of the pre-Tony’s buzz. Around July 4th, most shows took a dive in ticket sales, but otherwise the winners saw steady numbers.

It’s important to remember that while many of the regular theatregoers were filling seats after the awards, many look to the Tony’s to plan more long-term trips to NYC. Hence, many shows will continue to see financial success months after at-home viewers got their first glimpse. Many people will plan an entire trip based on when their show is running (to catch it before it closes) and when their budgets and schedule will allow a trip. Especially with summer vacations (and, yes, even holiday trips) being planned, it’s clear that the “Tony’s effect” will ebb and flow, but definitely show itself in individual box office showings in the coming months.

The Spark of the Art – Do you know how to ignite?

What is it that fills the velvet cushioned seats of a theater with eager bodies? What draws people to travel hours to peer at a collection of paintings? What causes people to devote endless hour upon hour to repetitive, rote practice, sacrificing personal joys and free time with loved ones? Both complex and simple all at once, the answer is the art spark.

Shared by artist and audience member alike, the art spark is one of those wondrous things that make man unique from other earthly creatures. It’s the innate urge to express oneself and equally to observe such expression literally sparks an inward need for more. Once a patron of the arts, always a patron of the arts.

The spark is experienced in all walks of life. From the largest, most renowned stage to the barn-turned-community theater; from a high school poetry slam to a gallery of the highest ilk – they all have sprung from the passion of creation. For any performer – be they dancer, actor, artist, poet, writer, or athlete – the rush of anxious excitement that comes with displaying the proof of one’s dedicated practice is like no other. While the quality of one’s work may not (and possibly should not) be measured by its popularity, the great purpose of art is for it to be ultimately shared and enjoyed.

In this way, the audience holds an integral role in the artistic process. Their own art spark allows them to share in the artist’s excitement. They revel in the artist’s successes; cushion the blow of failure. Be it through admiration, sheer enjoyment, or empathy, they form a trust-based relationship with the artist. At times, a twinge of jealousy – the “I wish I could do that” feeling – leads the spark to turn audience member into full-fledged performer. After all, what great artist didn’t start as admiring fan at one time?

And so it goes. Shakespeare to Oscar Wilde to Noel Coward. Bach to Verdi to Copland. DaVinci to Van Gogh to Picasso. Artistic endeavors beget appreciation which beget further new endeavors, which allow the arts as a whole to live on. The simple nervous energy of an opening night is single-handedly continuing the lengthy tradition begun centuries before.

All because of that little spark.


How a Young Family Prepares for the Theatre

A night of theater is a simple formula: dinner, theater, maybe coffee and dessert later over a lengthy chat about the interesting points of the show. It’s an exciting yet relaxing change from the norm, perfect for recharging and enlivening playgoers.

For some audience members, the evening is more of a process, though. Far more effort is put into the enjoyment of a night of theater, and that variation from the norm is sharper for several reasons.

Take a recent example right out of my planner. There was a time that a date night of theater meant next to no planning, and occurred about once every month or two. My husband and I would meet up after work, grab a lovely dinner beforehand (he never made reservations), and off to the theater we went. Intermission and after-show coffee would bring about chats of personal connections with themes and characters, comparisons to other shows, and analyses of whether we could get away with such a show at our own community theater group. We’d leisurely head home and keep chatting, still buzzing on caffeine and inspiration.

Fast-forward to now. Theater experiences are few and far between since our son came along. When we do take in a show, we weigh heavily which show is worth our time and effort, sifting through every local theater’s season options. We hardly ever select a repeat show anymore, whereas we used to enjoy comparing the variations between different productions. We definitely take less risks, mostly because our free time has become a more precious commodity.

After selecting (weeks or months in advance) the show that we’re interested in, we analyze the best babysitting option and exactly how the evening will go. We plan, discuss, organize, and plan some more. From the fastest route to the closest restaurant to the exact minute we need to leave to find a prime parking spot, it’s almost laughable.

Once inside the theater, though, we’re home. Joining the din of the crowd, we enjoy the laughter, gasps, and boisterous applause that accompany live theater. We read our programs voraciously, socialize unexpectedly with old friends in the aisle, and share knowing smirks when the audience reacts conservatively to a bawdy joke. We leave on bouncing feet, reenergized with the same old feeling. Only, this time, we rush off to relieve the babysitter and drag an over-tired toddler home. We all pass out and feel exhausted for days, calling it a totally worth it “theater hangover.”

We know that, one day, we’ll miss these days of childhood innocence, so we don’t wish them away. However, we find encouragement in the fact that we’ll be bringing up our son in a theater-loving family and will be able to share theater-going experiences together as he grows up. Before we know it, our house will be sadly empty and we’ll have the luxury to frequent more and more productions like the old days. It brings me to wonder if any of our over-planning practices will spill into those calmer, quieter times.


Boost Your Marketing Communications Strategy with a “Boston Pops” Touch

Marketers have often asked me whether it is better to use email or direct mail for a marketing campaign. From much research and many case studies, I have found that the answer is not an “either/or” choice. A sound integrated marketing strategy is like an orchestra, with all the different parts coming together at the right moment to create the patron experience. To develop a “Boston Pops” approach to your campaign, I recommend a model based score based on good data, a communications matrix to understand where your potential patrons are in the buying cycle, and personalized, relevant messaging to a potential buyer.

Good, clean data and modeling are necessary for strategic decision-making. Data does not lie. “Tried-and-true” gut decisions may mislead and misdirect strategic actions and funds. Through data-driven insight, a venue can achieve a deeper understanding of a customer’s actual value and propensities to purchase. This insight, in turn, drives the strategy and determines the campaign, delivery channels, tactics and offers.

With good data in hand, take the next step in a disciplined, precision marketing approach. Use a communications matrix to chart what channel, message, or offer should go to which segment of your potential patrons. A matrix can help avoid over-communicating and redundancy, which can be costly both from a financial and from a patron-relations standpoint. By mapping messages to specific segments, the tool can help you organize a prescriptive, customer-centric approach across all product lines of your company.
If you are part of a large venus, over-communicating may be a greater problem than you realize. At a bank in Asia, I found more than 1,080 requests for names out of their database were requested by ten different product departments within six months. One potential customer received 10 product offers in one day!

You can avoid such budget-wasting tactics. Set up a simple communications matrix in four quadrants with two key axes: current revenue and potential revenue. The quadrants identify responders in four categories: low propensity, future potential, high propensity and “best bets.”

Best Bets. This grouping refers to patrons who represent high existing revenue and high potential revenue, clearly the most attractive group –or best bets for your marketing dollars. Consider both email and direct mail for this population. Home Depot uses this successful strategy. When a family buys a new house, that homeowner becomes a best bet. Home Depot knows new owners will purchase fans, paint and wall coverings. Given this knowledge, Home Depot invests a larger percent of its marketing dollars in sending new owners slick, direct mailers with appropriate offers.
Low Propensity. This segment represents low existing revenue and low potential. Many times this segment represents patrons in which we have limited data or understanding. Consequently, it has the lowest chance of generating revenue for your company. Sending expensive direct mail would not be the best use of funds. Rather, this segment lends itself to electronic contact with lead-nurturing e-mails, surveys, or invitations to visit your booth at a tradeshow. At a minimum of 75 cents per unit, plus creative costs, direct mailers are too expensive an investment for patrons in this segment.

Future Potential. The population in this segment currently generates revenue for the company but does not have a high propensity to create significant new revenue in the future. Targeting the occasional user does not represent the best allocation of marketing budget dollars but staying engaged is key to continual nurturing and retaining this loyal customer.

High Propensity. This segment refers to prospects or patrons who represent low existing revenue but high potential revenue. The “high propensity” segment has greater potential than the other low and future potential, yet the strategy needs to consider a less costly communication engage and grow this segment. Emails with special offers could be effective with this segment. In keeping with the homebuyer example, a campaign may target renters that are considering a significant home purchase based on data and demographics.

A communications matrix helps you avoid a wasteful “spray-and-pray” or “one-size-fits-all” campaign loaded with generic messaging. Such messages are irrelevant regardless of how often they are repeated or by which means they are delivered. By understanding your audience segments, you can develop relevant, personalized messaging, which is ranked as one of the top strategies for realizing greater revenue and profitability from existing patrons. According to one study, business marketers spend an average of 30 percent of their marketing budgets on the creation and execution of content. “Content is now the engine that makes marketing go, ”said Joe Pulizzi, Junta42 founder and chief content officer.

All these factors play into any marketing strategy. In honing choices for your “marketing symphony,” keep in mind these recommendations:

  • Use good, clean data to develop a precisely targeted customer strategy.
  • Use a communications matrix to generate the highest return for marketing dollars spent.
  • Low Propensity, Future Potential, High Propensity and Best Bets describe the customer potential for revenue generation.
  • Use relevant, personalized messaging aligned to patrons in each segment of the matrix to gain the most benefit from your marketing dollars.

Dirty Data You Are The Talk Of The Town

Everyone is talking dirty, dirty data that is. They’re quickly realizing that without a data strategy, data becomes quickly outdated and is more of a liability vs. an asset. CMO’s can no longer hide their dirty laundry; the data must be cleaned in order to improve campaign costs and ROI.

Is my data dirty? According to, YES.

• 7% of your current data is Duplicated
• 21% is Dead or considered Useless or Dead
• 74% is Outdated
• 90% is Incomplete

Instead of discussing the potential damage dirty data can cause a campaign, let’s take some action and find a data hygiene provider to help.

Vendor Selection: You will need to send a spreadsheet with First Name, Last Name, Address, City, State, Zip and Account Code to reference back to your system. Most data hygiene providers will clean your data up to 10,000 addresses for free. This will let you make an informed decision on which provider to select. Be sure to review the match rate at both the address level and then at the surname level. Match rates on address level usually are in the 90% range, while matches on the surname level usually fall into the 75% range.

What you can expect: The data hygiene provider will standardize your data in accordance with the United States Postal Office standards and usually will return your data CASS certified.

Now that your data is standardized, the next step is cleaning your data. I will cover this in my next post.


Precision Marketing Defined

Research for my book, “Precision Marketing: Maximizing Revenue through Relevance “ began about 2008.  Read more

Consumers leave loyal brands due to irrelevance

In speaking with my 70 year old father over the weekend, he shared with me that he is no longer reading advertising emails- he is just hitting the delete key. He also mentioned that he continues to receive mail for my mother. Now, if my mother was able to get the mail that would be fine, but postal rates are high, and not sure what it would costs to deliver it since she passed away in 1995. Even my father, whom I consider the most patient man on earth – is getting frustrated with irrelevant mail and email.

A few months ago I was researching some information on the “noise” level and was questioning if consumers would actually stop doing business with these “polluters”. I know at my house we have actively unsubscribed to irrelevant catalogs, junk mail, and emails. But are others doing this too? Here is some information that I found:

  • Traditional junk mail accounts for over 100 billion pieces of mail each year, and 44 percent of this unsolicited, primarily promotional mail ends up in a landfill…unopened.
  • Email waste is also staggering. There is more than 200 billion email messages sent each day, yet 97 percent of all email sent is actually spam, according to an April, 2009 report released by Microsoft.
  • The average email open rate across 16 industries during Q2 of 2009 now stands at 22.2%, and has increased for the fourth quarter in a row (Epsilon)
  • About 3.3% of opt-in emails for subscribers in the US and Canada were sent to “junk” or “bulk” email bins, while 17.4% did not get delivered at all. (ReturnPath)

I could not find one report that captured my frustration or could prove my hypothesis on the growing level of marketing fatigue. And if I could find such a report, I could use it in speaking with marketers on how they are using their precious marketing dollars and how data driven marketing  can deliver more relevancy, and more relevancy usually means increased customer retention, loyalty, and ROI.

The audit is completed and here are some key findings:

  • While 64 percent of consumers say promotional offers dominate both the email and traditional mail they receive, only 41 percent view these as must-read communications.
  • Of the 91 percent of consumers who opt out or unsubscribe to emails, 46 percent are driven to brand defection because the messages are simply not relevant.
  • The threat of customer churn and disconnection intensifies as 41 percent of consumers say they would consider ending a brand relationship due to irrelevant promotions, and an additional 22 percent say they would definitely defect from the brand.
  • Yet, while marketers continue to weigh the pros and cons of email versus printed postal mail, consumers are much more concerned about the level of individualization and understanding of their needs and relationship with the brand.

“Lee the end message is clear, this economy has shifted influence and power to the customer” said Liz Miller, VP of the CMO Council, “and the consumers are saying in very clear words STOP sending me mass messaged, irrelevant (and irritating) waste or I will take my business to a company that actually takes the time to know me.”