Would you go to the trouble of completing an online survey in return for a $10 coffee gift card? You say you're not a big coffee drinker? Well, what if the mailed invitation spelled out your first name in chocolate sprinkles on the froth of a cup of latte over the beckoning words, Enjoy A Cup On Us? Then could you resist?


Of the 14,000 people who received such an invitation on behalf of HP, 50% clicked through to personalized URLs, and of these, 40% completed the survey - an overall 20% response rate that earned the grand prize for Montage Graphics in the first annual Top Picks direct marketing competition sponsored by Deliver magazine. The Fort Collins, CO, provider of marketing support services had been asked by the Oliver Russell direct marketing agency of Boise, ID, to develop a campaign aimed at helping HP gauge the office equipment purchasing responsibilities of administrative assistants.

According to a story in Deliver's May issue, Montage Graphics used database management and a technique called PhotoTexting to produce 14,000 four-color, 6" x 4.5" folded cards that were mailed to the AAs in clear plastic envelopes. PhotoTexting isn't explained in the article, but a reasonable guess is that it's a variable-imaging process made possible by the company's HP Indigo digital printing equipment and the "ParticleLogic" cross-media personalization technologies described at its Web site.

Production cost, says the article, came to $19,600 (design costs were not disclosed). For that, HP got an interactive market research vehicle that not only was heavily utilized but also produced results that were extremely easy to track: " The client could learn exactly who has what buying power and determine as a result how much sales effort to put into that exact person" thus they can discover how much it costs to land a specific customer, rather than how much it costs on average to attract the attention of a particular customer segment." 

Toby Gadd, the owner Montage Graphics, shares his thoughts on personalized marketing in a downloadable brochure entitled, "Marketing to an Audience of One/Demystifying Variable-Data Printing. Interestingly, the article extolling his one-to-one coup for HP appears in the same issue of Deliver that carries an editorial eulogistically slugged, The Passing of One-to-One. This essay contends that we now live in a many-to-many world where instead of reaching out to individuals, marketers must target like-minded groups of people who will influence each other.

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