How to Use the Power of Personalization in Your Marketing Campaigns
Dan Kennedy once said that Gary Halbert had “cracked the code” meaning that Halbert was able to find a product that he could sell to nearly everyone. Most people think their audience is everyone, but they would be wrong.
Look him up, and you will see his vast credentials as someone who knows how to move products out the door. This is why saying that Gary Halbert “cracked the code” really means something.
However, Gary Halbert is even more legendary. He too was a direct response copywriter and a very successful direct marketer. In a minute, we will explore his famous letter and the marketing campaign that Dan Kennedy had said, “cracked the code.”
When you have a product, you have to decide who your target market is. If you don’t, then your whole marketing campaign will fall apart.
Recently, I was consulting with a would-be client who was marketing a new cell phone service. I asked him who his target market was. He said, “Everyone.” I was about to just hang up the phone right then and there. However, I let out a big sigh instead and gave him the talk about “everyone” is not a target audience.
On the surface, a new cell phone service could theoretically appeal to “everyone” in your direct marketing campaign. A cell phone is NOT just for the men or women, or just for children or the elderly. Everyone has a cell phone, so everyone could be in this case a target market for your marketing campaign.
However, you have to be very careful when you decide that “everyone” is your target market. Yes, you could be selling toilet paper, soap, and other ordinary items. Still, knowing your exact target market is critically important.
Back to Gary Halbert
Anyway, Gary Halbert really did “crack the code” as Dan Kennedy had once said. Dan Kennedy was really referring to the fact that Halbert’s mailing list was literally “everyone in the phonebook,” but that is about as close to “everyone” as you can get.
I can’t get into Dan Kennedy’s head, but I think Gary Halbert was able to crack the code in another way rather than just appealing to “everyone.”
So what did Gary Halbert do to crack the code?
Halbert created a product that appealed to nearly everyone. He found a secret that Dale Carnegie talked about in his book, How To Win Friends and Influence People.
Do you like to hear your own name?
In his book, Carnegie said, “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
Halbert was able to tap into what Dale Carnegie wrote about in his famous book. When Halbert wrote his letters for his famous direct marketing campaign, he was able to tap into that primal human emotion.
So, what was Gary Halbert’s product and how did it make him millions of dollars?
Halbert sold Coat of Arms drawings to anyone who had a last name!
Here’s the letter he wrote for his direct marketing campaign:
5687 Ira Road
Bath, Ohio 44210
Dear Mr. Mac Donald,
Did you know that your family name was recorded with a coat-of-arms in
ancient heraldic archives more than seven centuries ago?
My husband and I discovered this while doing some research for some
friends of ours who have the same last name as you do. We’ve had an
artist recreate the coat-of-arms exactly as described in the ancient
records. This drawing, along with other information about the name, has
been printed up into an attractive one-page report.
The bottom half of the report tells the story of the very old and
distinguished family name of Mac Donald. It tells what the name means, its
origin, the original family motto, its place in history and about famous
people who share it. The top half has a large, beautiful reproduction of
an artist’s drawing of the earliest known coat-of-arms for the name of
Mac Donald. This entire report is documented, authentic and printed on
parchment-like paper suitable for framing.
The report so delighted our friends that we have had a few extra
copies made in order to share this information with other people of the
Framed, these reports make distinctive wall decorations and they are
great gifts for relatives. It should be remembered that we have not
traced anyone’s individual family tree but have researched back through
several centuries to find out about the earliest people named Mac Donald.
All we are asking for them is enough to cover the added expenses of
having the extra copies printed and mailed. (See below.) If you are
interested, please let us know right away as our supply is pretty slim.
Just verify that we have your correct name and address and send the
correct amount in cash or check for the number of reports you want. We’ll
send them promptly by return mail.
Nancy L. Halbert
P.S. If you are ordering only one report, send two dollars ($2.00).
Additional reports ordered at the same time and sent to the same
address are one dollar each. Please make checks payable to me, Nancy L. Halbert.
Do you see how this letter appeals to a person’s sense of feeling important?
Human beings have a strong desire to feel important. This coat of arms direct marketing campaign is the perfect vehicle for that—especially for those who don’t have diplomas from higher education institutions or advanced degrees.
Having a coat of arms drawing with your last name is the perfect way to say, “Hey, I’m somebody. Look at me!”
People want to feel like there are somebody and that they matter. They want to feel important.
This is same reason why sites like Ancestry.com do so well. People want to feel connected. Gary Halbert took it to another level by allowing people to make importance visible with an actual drawing of their family coat of arms.
Unlike many products that may appeal to just men or just women. Or just the educated, the rich, or the poor. This product appeals to everyone. If you have a name (a last name), and you want to feel important then you are in Gary Halbert’s target market for direct marketing campaign.
People have a strong to desire to be a part of history.
Many “fortune tellers” tap into this need to be connected to the past and feeling important about it. When these fortunetellers tell people about their past lives, they make sure that the person’s past life was a significant one. Not a boring one.
They will tell their “customer” that they lived in ancient times as a king, a queen, or a prince. You will never hear any one of these soothsayers tell their prospect that in a past life they could have been a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker. That’s not how it works.
That’s not very important. People need to feel important.
This feeling of importance is what Gary Halbert was able to tap into. This is the real reason his direct marketing campaign was so successful.
In addition to appealing to everyone in the phonebook, he was able to make people feel important by giving them something that allowed them to say, “Hey, I’m somebody!”
There is a scene in the movie, The Jerk, where Steve Martin’s character emulates a magazine ad by holding up an alcoholic drink with an umbrella in it and says, “Be somebody!”
How can you use this in your direct marketing campaigns?
Like Gary Halbert, you have to sit down and think long and hard on how you can generate the kind of interest that Halbert had generated.
Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of Gary Halbert’s letter. In a video on YouTube, Halbert said it took him 18 months to write that letter, and it was his first successful sales letter. Fortunately, for us, we can learn from his experience and his direct response letter.
At its peak, a million letters a week were being sent out! And they took in 20,000 checks a day. How’s that for a winning letter?
Remember Dale Carnegie’s infamous words about a person’s name being the sweetest sound to that person.
Of course, we see this in direct marketing all the time. Address someone personally in the mail and in an email, and you will generate a higher response rate than if you had not used their name.
The magic of Coca-Cola
Recently, Coca-Cola put people’s names on their sodas. You may have seen these soda cans (or not depending on when you’re reading this). This campaign was a huge success! AdWeek even said, “‘Share a Coke’ Campaign Grows Sales For First Time in 10 Years.” (The idea originated in Australia with the help of Coke’s ad agency Ogilvy).
The Coke campaign is interesting to look at because even though at one point they used the 1,000 most popular names in America, they still couldn’t stock all of them in any one store. Inevitably they would be leaving out a bunch of people—especially those with alternate spellings. Cyndi or Cindy? I don’t know.
Therefore, if you don’t see your name on a Coke at your local 7-Eleven, you might feel a little left out, and thus, you may go hunting down the Coke with your name. After all, your name is the sweetest sound to you. Right, John?
The interesting part is that the Coca-Cola company is pitting people against one another to see who is more important. If your name is on the bottle, you’re important—you matter. One of the biggest companies in the world has just endorsed you. That’s a big deal.
The creators of this marketing campaign took a page out of Gary Halbert’s playbook of direct marketing.
This marketing campaign from Coca-Cola is very personal to people. You have a big brand like Coca-Cola saying that they recognize your name, and you want the world to know. People splattered social media with photos of them with their name emblazoned on a can of Coke.
So how can you use this direct marketing tactic to your advantage?
You could also insert some kind of personal letter or certificate into the package along with your product. Instead of getting the same product that everyone else gets, your customer gets something personal.
However, it’s more than just writing a letter or a note with their name on it. You have to make it personal.
If you have thousands of customers, this may seem impossible. I’m sure the ad agency that came up with the Coca-Cola came upon some resistance because printing different names on cans of Cokes and making sure they are evenly distributed was the not the norm in the land of Coca-Cola. Regardless they made it work.
Gary Halbert made it work, too!
At one point, his small company was receiving over 20,000 checks every single day! That’s a lot of checks to process for a small company. He made it work. So can you. Just remember the immortal words of Dale Carnegie.
Ash Waechter is a direct response copywriter who helps small businesses sell more products and services online. He also writes SEO copy for attracting readers from around the web.