If you’re a marketer, you know the industry prefers to use the term “direct mail” over what consumers consider “junk mail.”

Still, direct mail – especially when personalized, has worked well over the years. But sometimes, you’d see some glitches in the personalization, like this one…

In the ’80s, Publishers Clearing House mailed a flyer to Joe Morello,* the still-life photographer I worked with. The copy began, “Dear Mr. Joe Morello Studio….” And continued, “Won’t your neighbors be surprised when they see you driving down West 28th Street in a brand-new Mercedes, Mr. Studio?” (Joe drove a Datsun 280 Z, although he probably would’ve enjoyed another fancy car.)

That was thirty forty years ago.

Recently, I (actually) clicked an online ad because I needed to compare car insurance rates. Yes, I knew it was a lead magnet, and sure enough, within a few days, I received a bunch of emails and a few letters. Each included the standard personalization intro, like “Dear Nancy…” The info provided everything I needed, yet was indistinguishable. Nothing in the insurance companies’ design or copy stood out – except for this envelope pictured in my photo. Someone in the Charleston-based insurance company took a smart approach, enticing me to choose them over all the others. Maybe even a bit homemade looking. But it worked.

Now here’s an example of a sad connection request from a LinkedIn member:

Hi Nancy,
I see that you attended Walnut Hills High School. Always interesting to learn how the impact someone’s college can have on their future.
I’ll make it quick – we just helped ________ law firm, get 100-120 leads monthly.
Now we want to do something similar for Lawyers Biography Service.
The proof? We’ve been named _____ and we’ve already helped companies like __________.

Note the discrepancy between the name of my high school and how they inserted “college” in the same sentence?

Look, if you’re using LinkedIn for outreach, that’s fine. But if you want to stand out from the crowd here are my recommendations:

✅ Do your homework.
✅ Put some effort into your copy. There’s nothing worse than a generic, inauthentic-sounding e-mail.
✅ Do something unexpected in your approach or delivery.
✅ Verify your data before you deploy your tactics. (This is soooo important!)

Personalization isn’t dead. It’s alive and well and will work when your content resonates with the recipient.

*PS: Although they shared the same name, my Joe Morello was not the famous jazz drummer who sat in with Dave Brubeck’s studio sessions.

Written by : Nancy Slome

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