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Playing Favorites

Getting Personal

Futurists predict that the distinction between identity advertising and retail advertising will erode, then disappear-as every ad, every editorial and every sign is tied into a transaction. Science fiction? Nope. Science fact. Soon to come is a combination barcode-scanner/smart card-reader that can be hidden in a TV remote control. When viewers see a commercial that piques their interest in a product or service, they can point the remote at the screen, click a button, read an offer embedded in the commercial, then download a coupon into a smart card, which can be used the next time they go shopping. They'll also be able to place an order by remote control.

This will force all marketers to marshal their resources, spending only as much on a marketing weapon as their returns can justify. That means zeroing in on your best prospects and staying with them once they've been identified as prime targets. Will it take three tries to win them over, or will it take three years? Both options will win out over mailing to less-than-prime customers only once.

The key is to get personal. Recall the story of the nonprofit organization that increased its response rate 668 percent by treating its big donors well-sending mass mailings in an envelope addressed by hand and adding a handwritten 25-word note at the end of the letter.

The goal of today's guerrilla is to compile a select customer list, a targeted prospect list, growing numbers of trusting relationships, new information to help prospects and customers, sales generated through service and referrals, and a honeymoon that never ends.

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Jay Conrad Levinson is the father of Guerrilla Marketing, the bestselling marketing series in history, selling more than 14 million copies worldwide. He is chairman of Guerrilla Marketing International. His latest books include Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days, 2nd. Edition with Al Lautenslager, Guerrilla Marketing on the Internet with Mitch Meyerson and Mary Eule Scarborough, and Startup Guide to Guerrilla Marketing with Jeannie Levinson.

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This article was originally published in the July 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Playing Favorites.

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