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Nancy Schuring: Micro-Target Your Marketing

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Personalized direct mail is the best way to your customer’s heart.

[dropcap cap=T]hink of a swift arrow shot from a powerful bow that finds its mark without a lot of wasted energy. Wouldn’t this be a fantastic marketing strategy? What if you could target the right jewelry message to the exact right customer just when they needed or wanted a piece of jewelry? [/dropcap]

Technology has caught up with our fantasy. Now you need to do the work to enable technology to do its job. Here are some steps you can take:

[h2]1[/h2] Create a complete database, and update it often. A customer database including birthdays, anniversaries and other information is essential.
Do not consider a transaction complete until useful data has been gathered. After all, aren’t we in the birthday and anniversary gift-giving business?

[h2]2 [/h2]Capture kids’ names and ages if you can — they are bonus material. Having this information enables your staff to reach out to customers in advance of their important dates with a note, letter or gift certificate to encourage a visit to your store.

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Using the kid info and listening to your customers, you can anticipate communions, confirmations, and bar and bas mitzvahs.

[h2]3[/h2] Generate monthly printouts of upcoming customer event dates. Micro-targeting “touches” certain customers with the right message at just the right time through a variety of methods.

For example, you can send a brochure featuring wedding bands to the 40 customers who are having wedding anniversaries that month. Or, you can send a birthday coupon to your 75 birthday customers. Sending out religious gift ideas in the spring communion and confirmation season will bring in more of those sales to people who are in your database.

[h2]4 [/h2]Don’t send to your full database. It is no longer necessary or economically prudent to send every mailing to every single name in your database.

You can now custom-tailor your advertising messages to sub-groups in your customer list. Trunk-show attendees from last year’s special event are the core of this year’s invitation list.

Make sure your staffers are adding information to your database all year indicating customer interest in certain lines.

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Following up with a note or phone call before an event can boost attendance more than a mass mailing, and it costs less.

Your customers will be more receptive to your contact because they have already shown interest.

[h2]5[/h2] Get personal — especially with letters. The highest level of micro-targeting is the personal letter acknowledging the customer as an individual.
Referring to conversations the salesperson may have had with the customer or pieces the customer tried on or admired greatly increases the impact. The customer feels like he was listened to by the salesperson.

Some stores ask staff to handwrite these notes, but that is a time-consuming task salespeople usually dislike. Handwritten notes tend to be short and quickly written, often with poor grammar or penmanship.

Technology can greatly help with this outreach. Using the general outlines of template letters created by your store or purchased ones, the simple personalization of well-written content can be easy and effective. Computers can speed up the quantity and improve the quality of letters that are sent.

The personalized and effective content of a neatly printed, signed letter far outweighs any perceived advantage of a hastily handwritten letter that salespeople can’t wait to finish.

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Nancy Schuring is owner of Devon Fine Jewelry of Wyckoff, NJ. She’s also a co-founder of LetterMatics Inc., the provider of new micro-targeted direct mail technology.  (www.lettermatics.com).

[span class=note]This story is from the December 2009 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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