6 April 2009

Ready, Aim…. Aim…. Aim…. Fire!

Direct marketing, both digital , and physical, may be going through every shortening lifecycles of reinvention, but it is still an integral part of the marketing mix, particularly when building relationships with consumers over time.  While the popular trend is increasingly in the direction of the digital arena – social networks, email, blogs, purls etc,  there is still a certain level of trust that people give what is written on paper that is often higher than what they read online.  Now especially is a good time to leverage that trust by making physical direct mail more relevant, more compelling and far more original in order to grab attention and get a message across. Additionally, well executed dimensional or physical direct marketing has a higher ‘pass along’ factor than its digital counterpart.  But blanketing a zip-code, or a much worn bought list can lead to an incredible amount of waste.  Particularly in the real estate marketplace, one of the staples of agent contact with potential buyers or sellers has been the “Just Listed” or “Just Sold” postcard. And unfortunately, many in our industry have historically measured marketing ‘impact’ by the number of targets touched by direct marketing… as opposed to the number of pre-qualified, vetted, perfectly matched targets who may be just getting ready to look for a listing agent to sell their home as they move into a larger one, given than they are expecting a baby in 2 months….. but of course, how would you know where those people live? And wouldn’t it be cost prohibitive for a small business person like a real estate agent to invest in that kind of program?

At Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate we have been working on this challenge for around 18 months now.  What if, you could just spend your time communicating to those potential buyers and sellers who did want to hear from you or who really wanted to pay more for a gourmet kitchen, versus a  bigger back yard? Wouldn’t that be a real estate agent’s dream?  No more targeting just by geographic proximity, but combining that with demographic and behavioral factors, to give you the perfect list of target prospects.

Through our partnership with Meredith Corporation (the parent company of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine) we have been lucky enough to be working with some top minds in data mining, analytics and direct marketing fulfillment platforms. The Meredith subscriber database is in fact the largest media database in the country, with over 80 million records –  including 6 out of 10 women over the age of 18.  We’ve created a first for our industry, by creating a ‘drag and drop’ user interface, akin to an online shopping experience allowing agents to handpick who they want to market to within a certain radius of a zip code selecting them not only to have specific demographic features (eg household income, age, members of household, length of residence etc) but specific behavioral characteristics too (interest in remodeling, decorating, gardening, bicycling etc).  I have read of late some ground breaking interactive mapping tools enabling direct marketers to overlay basic demographic data on top of address data.

While that’s useful, I get pretty excited in that we have up to 1200 data points to explore in our database tool…. We think we’ll be able to tell you what a prospect might want to spend on a house, and how many bathrooms it needs to have, and how close to a school it needs to be….. and exactly what language you should use to talk to them…. And probably what they had for dinner…..

So, it’s a brave new ‘old world’ for direct marketing.  We’re thinking just think how far these concepts sand others could take your marketing dollar.

9 thoughts on “Ready, Aim…. Aim…. Aim…. Fire!

  1. This is totally brilliant! I LOVE it!

    Most template letters are awful. Letters that are well written and targeted to a specific demographic base can be powerful communication instruments and lead generators.

    Congratulations on leveraging the resources of Meredith for your agents in the trenches.

  2. I agree with Frances! How much money I waste each month on direct mail that is sent to non-relevant home owners! This is a true value you can give your agents! Keep up the good work!

  3. Congratulations, Camilla. This certainly will give all of your agents a real competitive advantage out there.

  4. Hi Camilla,

    What a wonderfull way to do datamining within the same (parent) company!
    Too bad that kind of datamining is illegal in Europe – unless the person has explicitly allowed you to do so.

    Good luck with cherry picking future clients 🙂

    Greetz from The Netherlands

  5. Camilla,
    That is really, really, interesting. This is something I’ve wrestled with for a while – sending our mailings, yet in my heart of hearts having second thoughts about the effectiveness.
    It will be fascinating watching you guys implement this. Keep us up to date as you progree, please.

  6. Yes, I agree this is very interesting. I would love to see what others are doing with the technologies in this arena. Our brokerage tries to be as paperless as possible, and we have completely stopped paper marketing.

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