Put Out The Welcome Mat

Marketers are finally beginning to understand that, like any intimate relationship, a dialogue works better than "talking at" someone. When a marketer has a deep understanding of people's habits and needs, it's a pretty intimate thing. Who else knows about the double fudge ice cream buried in the grocery cart under the reduced calorie, low-fat frozen dinners?

If you are a shopper at one of the leading grocery store chains and a member of its loyalty card program, we know you occasionally splurge on impulse items. It's not voyeurism -- it is delivering value to increase the standard of service people have come to expect.

Through an anthropological approach to consumer market research, creativity, insight and cutting-edge analytical tools, thought-leading companies in our industry are able to uncover clues in customer behavior that translate to customer-centric marketing for shoppers and increased market share for clients, including top CPG companies and major retailers.



Being invited into homes across the country rather than invading them is becoming the standard norm. Something amazing happens when marketing efforts are actually relevant to people. We see this step as initiating that crucial dialogue. And shoppers, for their part, are replying; essentially giving permission to marketers to learn their habits and respond accordingly.

When a message is perceived as useful, it is not advertising. When the right content is delivered at the appropriate time, people are motivated to put out the welcome mat for marketers and brands. Offers that reflect consumers' specific shopping habits will be more successful than an annoying flood of mail-in surveys, trial offers and other coupons that inevitably find their way in the garbage.

Companies can initiate ongoing conversations with people by closely tracking and analyzing the shopping habits of loyalty card shoppers, which enables marketers to reach the customers they already have and reward them. One leading grocers invested in the skills, processes and technologies necessary to boost loyalty and was inspired to develop a loyal customer mailer (LCM) unlike any other.

Once a quarter, millions of LCMs are mailed out to households containing customized messages specifically for them, a thank-you for their business and offers reflecting a specific household's previous shopping experiences, thus recognizing and rewarding their loyalty. That weakness for double fudge ice cream amid a cart full of low calorie, low-fat choices? Just another idiosyncrasy that can easily be tracked and targeted, resulting in offers that make each shopping experience unique.

An envelope filled with relevant content and the right offers that reflect a shopper's actual shopping list isn't considered junk mail when it's the result of a dialogue between consumer and marketer. Again and again, people say they feel like their LCM was designed or customized just for them, and they look forward to the correspondence, whether it is in their mailbox or in their inbox. This dramatic shift in perception translates directly to motivating consumers to act. Over 30% of households redeem an average of five offers.

As the consumer-marketer relationship continues to evolve, customization will be critical not only in message, but in delivery. Without dialogue initiated by the marketer but controlled by the customer, the connection will be lost. In fact, the industry talks about that futuristic day when consumers decide what advertising they want to see, when they want it, and in what medium. Technology and honed strategies are already allowing us to develop the future as we uniquely get to that level and move with the consumer on this extraordinary journey.

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1 comment about "Put Out The Welcome Mat ".
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  1. Peter Horan from Goodmail Systems, July 28, 2009 at 11:07 p.m.

    The rules of engagement have changed for marketers. Until recently, marketing used (and abused) a one-to-many broadcast model. Whoever had the biggest budget and biggest microphone usually won. We are now in an age of permission marketing and marketers must now learn to be polite participants in a many-to-many conversation. Rather than shouting out high volume "spray and pray" advertising, marketers have the opportunity to speak to interested consumers in context. But to that requires them to use what we told the kids was an "inside voice". Marketers must send consumers messaging that is interesting, relevant, occasionally amusing and respectful of the permissions that consumers have granted to the marketer. Within this broader context, we are about to witness the second coming of email. Email is the logical convergence point of two marketing mega trends: direct-to-consumer relationships and superior targeting. As marketers re-evaluate ad programs, email merits increased investments in both budget and creativity.

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