What Today’s Marketers Can Learn From Victorians

Victorian, 1885

It’s a simple thing really.  It’s not even hard to do. And, we can still use this old-fashioned personalized marketing technique today.

In Victorian times, if you wanted to call on someone nearby you walked, took a carriage, or sent a servant (if you had one).

If the person lived far away, you had to rely on the mail, which could take weeks, even months.

Letters and cards were rare then, so they were treasured, and kept for years.  We can still read them, hundreds of years later.


Is faster always better?

Now, we have email, text messages, social networks and lots of other ways to contact nearly anyone – instantly.  Communication is fast, and largely disposable.  We can delete emails, edit posts, plus, like, and forget about it.

But sometimes, the fastest way isn’t the best way.

A few days ago, I got a belated holiday card from a friend.  I’d been about to toss all the cards, but kept them for a few days so I could enjoy them all.

Yesterday, my friend emailed asking if I’d gotten the card, and saying she was thinking of going entirely electronic next year.

Reach out and touch someone

It’s certainly faster (and cheaper) to send cards electronically, but they’re not as much fun. It’s marketing, sure, but it’s not really personalized marketing, especially if you’re sending the same message to hundreds or thousands of people.

When I get an e-card, I look at it, smile, and forget about it.  The physical cards get propped up on a shelf  where I can look at them, and smile throughout the entire holiday season. They make a much better impression than the electronic cards do.

A company that unexpectedly sends stickers, or a handwritten note, or a small gift will seem much more approachable and more “human.”

Have you tried this?  Or has anyone sent you something you didn’t expect?  An extra gift in your order?  Or a handwritten note?  What was it?

What Can Birthday Cakes Tell Us About Marketing?

Why all the cakes?

They’re not there to make you hungry.

They’re there to make a point about marketing personalization strategies.

Three friends, three cakes

My invisible (that’s invisible, not imaginary!) friend Megan had a birthday in January. I couldn’t be there in person, since she’s in Austin and I’m in New York City, so I got her some cyber cupcakes.

Two weeks ago, Jill, another faraway friend had a birthday too, so I sent her chocolate cake.

This Monday, it was my friend Bronwyn’s turn. Her cake was elegant and decorated with flowers.

A funky, creative friend got cupcakes that matched her personality, an extra-chocolatey cake for my chocolate-loving friend, and an elegant cake for the one who’s a member of the Royal Commonwealth Society.

Give them what they want

Aside from wishing my friends happy birthday, I made choices based on my friend’s preferences, not my own.

Do the same with your potential customers. Create an image in your mind of what they like, need, or want. You can even create a series of biographies. Name them. Draw up a profile of what they’re like and the kinds of information they’re looking for.

To each, her own cake

For example, if you’re a blog consultant, you might have some prospects who are complete beginners and don’t quite know the difference between a blog and a blog post.

Other readers may already have blogs, but want some tips on how to improve them (attract more traffic, get more comments).

A third group might be more interested in technical information – like tips for using PHP (blog programming language) or developing plugins.

This is especially important if you have more than one niche. Create content, products, and services that meet what your specific audience wants, needs, and can pay for.

Do you think this is important? Do you have buyer bios? Or, have you asked your readers for their opinions? Tell me what you think.  And, which cake is your favorite?

Cake images, in order, thanks to:
morguefile, morguefile, and tim parkinson

OK: Confession. Bronwyn, if you’re reading this, you probably noticed that’s a different cake. When I went back to the cake I sent you, I found that it was OK to share, but not OK to use commercially. So, I had to improvise. Hope you like this one too.