The Ultimate Personalized Marketing
We all get direct mail with personalized fields that are supposed to make us think the company marketing to us knows what makes us tick. The same with email, personal URL's, and other messaging that we know deep down is really just mass-produced by a computer. In today's saturated media market where people's attention spans are split in five thousand different directions, companies have to do something really special to capture a customer's attention and make them believe an advertisement was made just for them. And that's exactly what Wilkes University recently did.
The small school in northeast Pennsylvania wanted to attract local incoming freshmen who typically had the credentials to attend college far away from home. Their marketing team decided to focus on a small number of students to personally bombard with advertising. Not brochures in the mail, calls to their house, or personal websites like a lot of colleges do; Wilkes bought billboard space, radio spots, and TV commercials to say things like "Nicole Pollock: Our goal at Wilkes University is to be as much a mentor as your mother has been. (Now, if we could only make her ravioli.)"
Imagine being Nicole Pollock and driving to school one day, seeing that billboard for the first time. Not only did the campaign convince a number of the targeted students to apply to Wilkes, it created interest among their classmates and the rest of their local community. Obviously the campaign isn't scalable for most large companies, but the same principles apply to any kind of marketing. That feeling Nicole or any of the other students had when they saw that Wilkes University went out of its way to speak directly to them is the same feeling you should strive to create in every customer.
There are too many examples out there of "Dear firstname lastname, On xx/xx you purchased itemxyz, would you like to buy upsellxyz?" That may work better than using no personalization at all, but in today's world you have to create a deeper customer relationship. Take the time to find out what motivates your customers, take advantage of every touchpoint to learn about their needs, and don't let customers become a series of fields on a spreadsheet. Make every one feel like Nicole and her fellow prospective Wilkes University students.