Last week Ryan Miller and I were invited by Kemper Matt and the folks at Dupli Envelope and Graphics in Syracuse, NY to speak about Social Media for a group of their customers and staff.   Dupli’s business is rooted in Direct Mail, an area that is traditionally thought of  as being completely impersonal and standardized. But this industry is changing just as other methods of marketing are being forced to change and Dupli is a company that is embracing emerging media.

Henry Ford said that his customers can get a Model T in any color they wanted “as long as it’s black.” That lack of customization isn’t a winning model anymore. In the case of direct mail, the actual piece used to be the center of gravity. Now its the data that is most important. Campaigns that will succeed will be hyper targeted by location, super-relevant, and individually personalized. We were able to check out some of their digital printing tools as well as data management tools like XMPie that attempt to deliver completely customized mailings tailored to a customer’s previous purchases, location, and other factors such as sex (women’s hands holding the product for female customers and male hands for male customers will perform better than generic mailings).

Social Media and traditional tools such as Direct Mail can and must coexist. In fact they are both critical parts of reaching new and existing customers. Completely different methods, but with the changing media landscape they are both rooted in a customized experience that hopefully will result in forming and maintaining relationships long-term. It’s about reaching customers in a way that they want to be reached.

And the data that can be extracted or injected into a Direct Mail piece is astounding. On one hand, you may have an aversion to super targeted marketing. After all, are you comfortable with a company knowing all sorts of information about you? Whether you are or not is irrelevant. You leave digital breadcrumbs everywhere, much of it public. Everything from where you live to your social profiles to your purchasing habits is out there in some form. The upside to all that data mining is that companies can now deliver the most relevant pieces of content, not wasting dollars on irrelevant content, and not wasting your time asking you to consume all of those messages.