Well, fall is in the air, schools are back in session and good football is on the minds of many. And of course we're far from giving up on our Tigers. As of late they're making a run for the title and looking like, well, looking like they just might have a great chance! I sure hope so.


In addition to this we just passed Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Columbus Day and Halloween are right around the corner and before you know it Thanksgiving will be here. You gotta' love this time of year. If you're at all like me, you're probably trying to take advantage of every remaining pleasant day with a vengeance. I won't bore you with all the details but I recently spent a three day weekend "up north" recently as we Michigander's like to say. "Up north" as you may know, can refer to any number of small towns, bergs, villages, state or county parks and cabins or cottages covering literally hundreds of square miles located north of wherever you may be.   

I did a bit of work around the family cabin, spent a little time on the golf course (okay more than a little), and some time on the beach in the UP right next to US 2. It was warm enough to swim and body surf, yet cool enough to keep other humans away, that and the time of year I presume. On a gorgeous sunny afternoon I only saw about four people in three plus hours on a mile long stretch of beautiful sandy beach, what a treat! Oh, and I also watched the Fire Fighters parade in "downtown" Roscommon the day before. Every bit of it was thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing. I think it will be etched in my memory for some time.   


But that's not why I'm writing to you today, at least not completely anyway. I want to share some more information with you about direct mail.


Non Profits - Direct Mail Trumps Email

There's a recent study by Campbell River on behalf of the non profit advisory body, Dunham+Company that found people were three times more likely to donate after being contacted by direct mail than email. The CEO of Dunham was a bit shocked, I'm not and I don't think you should be either. A well designed physical object in the mail receives much more attention than an email. How many emails do you delete every hour say nothing about every day? The study goes on to point out that the age category of 40 - 59 are the most responsive to direct mail. Hmmmn, those are the folks who usually have a bit more disposable income, right? In 2010, 34% of them responded to a direct mail solicitation by making a donation. Fasten your seatbelt, in 2012 that went up to 47%! No I'm not making this up.  If you are one of the many organizations getting ready for that big year end appeal it's not too late to add relevant personalization and increase your results too!  

Insights on the Financial Industry

Caslon, the management company of PODi, the digital printing initiative, recently analyzed 49 PODi case studies in the financial services industry.

They determined that these studies can be classified into 6 major challenges for financial marketers and that these challenges are very similar in nature to many other industry markets. For each challenge they identified key solutions and subsequently linked each to a solution. The table below shows the results.

Here's a specific example of a solution designed to increase business from current clients. Heritage Education Funds Inc. is one of Canada's premier providers of Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs). Each year they conduct a direct mail campaign reminding clients that as the end of the year approaches, they should consider making a contribution to their child's RESP. Doing so will enable them to take advantage of a $400 government grant.

In the past their direct mail piece was printed offset and then personalized on a laser printer. It included simple personalization such as children's names and year-to-date contributions. Also printed on the piece was a call to action accompanied by a toll-free number. Heritage had not seen an increase in response rates in the past three years and its return on investment was stagnant.

A new mail piece was developed with graphs that depicted the current and future value of each child's RESP. The graphs help tell the story that the Fund wants the parents to hear, telling them this is where you are, this is where you want to be and this is how you can get there. "By clearly forecasting the cost for each child's education, our clients were compelled to respond," says Maguire.


In addition, the piece was designed so the images and text reflected the age and gender of the children of each recipient. For example, a client with a five-year-old daughter enrolled in an RESP would receive a direct mail piece that featured photos of a five-year-old girl.


The Fund sent approximately 20,000 direct mail pieces; about half of these were traditional static mailings and half one-to-one direct mail pieces. The overall look of the one-to-one piece was kept as similar as possible to the traditional marketing piece to avoid skewing clients' responses. 

  • Within the first three weeks, the personalized piece generated a response rate 10 times higher than the traditional piece
  • Overall, the rate of return for the one-to-one piece was 191% higher
  • Responding clients increased their monthly payments by $40 on average

By compelling so many clients to increase their monthly contributions, the customer lifetime value of the one-to-one piece is 400 times greater than the traditional marketing piece.


Granted you may not have a product or service as unique as Heritage however the principles still apply.  Relevant personalization makes a difference time and time again for businesses of all shapes, sizes and flavors.  If you'd like to learn more about the impact personalization and direct mail can have on your business please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thanks for listening,


Bill Strobridge