• February 11, 2010
  • By Edward Ickowski, director, sales and business development, DirectSmile

Picture Perfect

In 1870, the ability to combine words and images in an attractive format finally made the lithographic poster a powerful innovation for marketers. It quickly became the dominant means of mass communication around the world. From the streets of France to building walls in Berlin, areas were transformed into "visual object art galleries." These simple posters ushered in the modern age of advertising and marketing by telling compelling stories through the use of highly impactful imagery. 

Today we are inundated with information, not just in poster form, but everywhere we turn during almost every waking moment of our lives. We are bombarded by information and marketing messages. Inevitably, we will not be able to escape it. Most of us have learned to tune it out at best, or glance over it without a second thought.

In reality, our objectives as marketers haven't changed since the age of the lithographic poster: We are still trying to sell products, find the best way to utilize information, and leverage that information to inform, attract, and retain customers.

Today our challenge is greater as we have to cut through all the noise to get our potential customer to pause, just for a moment, and be receptive to our message. Just as the lithograph revolutionized the way products were marketed and sold in the 1870's, a powerful technology exists today that can have the same impact on your marketing efforts.

An image is worth a thousand words and today, a personalized image has the power to stop a person and get them to take notice to your message. More importantly, a personalized image can deliver your message more effectively than all the words you can fit onto a page. This technology has come of age and can be incorporated into campaigns for that high-impact "smile-factor!" 

During the holiday season in 2008, HMF Printing wanted to demonstrate to customers their new capabilities in image personalization to "spread some holiday cheer." They sent out holiday cards incorporating the recipient's name spelled out in holiday imagery. HMF saw a 7-10% increase in in-bound calls from the campaign and continues to utilize personalized campaigns for the best results. 

Self-promotion, whether you are a start-up with no funding to a top five financial firm, has to be well thought-out with a clear-cut strategy. If done the right way, with the right level of personalization, you can see your response rates propel beyond 10 percent. Start by asking yourself the following questions to establish a campaign that truly relates to customers:

  • What message am I trying to convey?
  • What product am I trying to sell?
  • What problem does it solve, and how will that make a potential customer feel?
  • What are my customer’s interests and how can I relate that back to my product or service?
  • How do I make the recipient the main focal point of the campaign while delivering my message?

Businesses today have more information about their customers and prospects than ever before. By tapping into this information you can design a marketing campaign that can impact them on a personal and emotional level. The personalized image can drive this home for you; the trick is to use imagery that looks real and natural the recipient can relate to the story.

A great example of this comes from OTC Systems, who produces marketing campaigns for the auto industry. They utilize image personalization to literally put their customers in the driver seat. Using key information about the make, color, model, and year of the vehicle for each customer, OTC’s campaigns personalize to match the customer. The response rates from these campaigns have consistently been reported between 20 to 23 percent. Some campaigns have achieved a 35 percent response rate with the highest reported at 50 percent.

If you are a travel agent, don’t send generic pictures of the beach — write their name in the sand. If you are a real-estate broker, put the name of your customer on the doormat of the front porch! The possibilities are endless when creating these campaigns and seeing real results. Use the information you have to make an emotional connection to your customer through a personalized image — you and your customers will love the results.

About the Author

Edward Ickowski (ed.ickowski@nj.directsmile.us) is the director of sales and business development at DirectSmile and leads the sales and development initiatives that have put DirectSmile at the forefront of the industry. Ickowski’s unique approach in building a healthy ecosystem with customers, and focusing on sales success has been key to his career. Ickowski credits his education for his innovative ideas and unbounded thinking. 

Please note that the Viewpoints listed in CRM magazine and appearing on destinationCRM.com represent the perspective of the authors, and not necessarily those of the magazine or its editors. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top.

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For the rest of the February 2010 issue of CRM magazine please click here.

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