Archive for the ‘Behavior’ category

Baby Boomers, Ergonomics and Direct Mail

August 12, 2011

by Paul Prisco*, Founder and Principal at Dog Food Design,

Consider the fact that by 2030 Baby Boomers will outnumber those less than 20 years of age. Not so youthful or sexy for the future of America? Right now there almost 80 million Baby Boomers and growing with a huge capacity to drive consumer spending.

Baby Boomers are one of the most loyal and active users of direct mail. It’s been part of their daily routine for quite sometime and that’s not going to change anytime soon — regardless of the Internet, mobile and social media.

When crafting a direct marketing program for Baby Boomers consider the process of ergonomics, which is the study of designing equipment and devices that fit the human body, its movements, and its cognitive abilities. Great examples of brands that are adapting to this demographic shift are Ford, CVS and HP to name a few. Aging does bring on a unique set of changes to the body and mind, which does affect how you should approach direct mail in a holistic way.

Here are three key ways you can leverage the power of ergonomics to connect with Baby Boomers in a relevant and meaningful way:

1. Mail Package Format

The power of touch and physical ergonomics is one way to connect with Boomers. Physical ergonomics is concerned with human anatomical, and some of the anthropometric, physiological and biomechanical characteristics as they relate to physical activity. It sounds a bit cliché but arthritis is a real concern for Boomers and handling small items can be a task for some.

• Simple is best when deciding on a direct mail package format. Avoid using complex folds to deliver your offer.

• Go big with your mail package size if you can afford it, which will allow for larger mail package components (OE, Letter, Reply Mechanism, etc.). This will deliver an easier handling experience while providing more real estate and should be most effective.

2. Overall Type Size

This approach would involve the cognizant side of ergonomics and be the most easily to implement. Cognitive ergonomics is concerned with mental processes, such as perception, memory, reasoning, and motor response, as they affect interactions among humans and other elements of a system. As we age it gets tougher to scan, read and recall type with a small point size.

• Consider headline point sizes of at least 14 point and body copy size of no smaller than 10 points. While offer and copy points are most important if they cannot be read easily you don’t have a shot.

• Avoid serif fonts that will become increasingly difficult to read when reduced. This applies for both print and digital marketing strategies.

• Do remember overall recall is higher with print media in general.

3. Icons

The use of simple and easy to decipher illustrations is another use of the cognizant side of ergonomics. Icons serve as a great platform when trying to communicate key subject areas or benefit points.

• Less is more when making a quick connection.

• Also, icons are a great substitute for costly photography which if not done tastefully will be a complete turn off to Baby Boomers.

The average Baby Boomer now cites the age of 68 as the new retirement age, which is up from 65.5 back in 2003. There’s no doubt the failure of the economy has contributed to Boomers working longer and harder. This means your direct marketing programs will have to do more to connect with this busy, distracted and potentially lucrative demographic to deliver more brand value.

*Paul Prisco is the Founder and Principal at Dog Food Design, A design and direct marketing agency for brands. He has helped leading organizations such as AARP and numerous colleges leverage design in their direct marketing programs to drive ROI. He can be reached at 404.829.2704 or


Who’s Spinning Your Marketing Data?

May 27, 2010

By Alex Marchetti | President DMA Atlanta | President Whitestone Marketing

 Response Rates and Conversion Rates represent two of the direct marketers and professional communicators most revered data metrics and are largely considered the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for measuring successful marketing campaigns. The shear velocity of the digital revolution coupled with advanced digital tracking technologies has armed marketers with powerful data they can use to measure campaign effectiveness and provide some basis for calculating ROI or justify marketing spends.

Clearly we have more verifiable activity based marketing data available to us today than we did as little as five years ago. But do we really know what it means or how to use it effectively?

 Unfortunately, I believe a good number of marketers have become statistical spin doctors using Response Rates, Conversion Rates, marketing data, surveys and analytics to either persuade prospective clients into contractual agreements or positively support the amazing performance of the campaigns they have implemented. Strategically, this approach is similar to the CFO’s of publically traded corporations preparing financials for Wall Street to influence stock prices.

As marketers and communicators, shouldn’t we focus our attention on what influenced consumer behavior and caused the response or no response? I don’t have a PHD in behavioral science, but I am a practicing consumer and have been included in many marketers’ efforts to increase client response rates, conversion rates, SEO, opt-ins, click through and the like. And from my personal perspective, the data collection process and corresponding analytics do not represent what influenced my behavior.

Let me explain. Like most men, I am an avid researcher and buyer of gadgets, audio equipment, autos and new technologies. On the other hand my wife is an avid researcher and buyer of most anything as long as it is of high quality. We represent different and distinct consumer segments and clearly our behavior is influenced differently. Yet neither of us responds to surveys, telemarketing, email solicitation or spend little or no time on social media sites. Consequently, little meaningful data is ever collected on what influences our purchases or searches. Even more disturbing, little consideration is given as to why we have not opted-in.

Are we, as well as other important consumer segments inadvertently left out of important response data or analytics? Even more importantly, will our collective absences provide a basis for a new strategic marketing direction or product redevelopment? In some instances, it will depend upon who spins the data and how it is spun.

Dr. Aubrey Daniels, a world renowned behaviorists and personal friend of mine have discussed this very issue at length. We agreed that some of the most critical information needed to predict behavior, reinforcing behavior and building customer loyalty is held by the people who do not respond.

Unfortunately, in most cases, the first step in data analytics is to discard records of those who did not respond and focus on those who did respond.  Why? Simple – it’s easier. Most marketers and communicators don’t understand what influences behavior nor do they understand how to influence the non-responders into becoming responders.  They are not behaviorists nor are they qualified to evaluate marketing data in this context.

As professional marketers and communicators, I believe we not only have a responsibility to generate high performance marketing campaigns, but we also have a responsibility to understand what influences one’s behavior and compels them to respond or not respond.  If we don’t, it will be extremely difficult for us to sustain the amazing Response Rates and Conversion Rates.

I’ve known Dr. Daniels for quite some time and can assure you that the science of behavior is complex and requires a good bit of formal education and experience before it can be effectively applied.  It is however, a critical aspect of effective data analytics and cannot be overlooked. Know what you don’t know and team up with a behaviorist to optimize long term marketing results for your customers.