Personalized Marketing: The Valentine’s Day Experiment

Personalization is probably the hottest trend for marketing this year. According to a Millward Brown marketing research survey, it’s on the agenda of the top marketer’s plans for 2015. This Forbes article last year predicted as much when it emphasized the growing importance of not sending the same marketing message or offer to every client and prospect:

“…when asked about the capability most important to their future marketing efforts, “personalization” ranked highest, hands down. In other words, we not only need a marketing makeover, but taking more risks and infusing creativity into our personalization efforts will be key to its success and longevity.”


This trend seems to be receiving quite a bit of coverage from industry media like Adweek and MarketingProfs. Chris Lucas, VP of Marketing at Formstack, adds that it’s not just a trend, it’s an important move for the business, but don’t forget to measure what is important. “If you are doing a personalized campaign to drive new business, a good metric is opportunities created and deals won,” says Chris. “If you are doing this to re-engage current customers, then a metric like reorders/upgrades or other retention metrics are important to measure. Ideally, you want to have the key indicators set before you start your campaign – that way you know what to measure.”

But what happens when an agency actually practices what they preach?

To answer this question, The Sutter Group decided to infuse creativity into a very personalized Valentine’s Day marketing effort. Rather than just send out the same chocolate candy to all our clients, we took the time to think about their brands individually and come up with what kind of candy would best represent their brand.

Then we turned to the sharing economy, which is another emerging trend. Sourcing gifts this unique at this small scale takes the custom creativity found through a community like Etsy. (Marketers should turn here for clever ideas when their own creative juices start to dry up.) Some of the entrepreneurs use this site to create and send their arts and crafts to support the DIY’ers of the world or support their own baking talents short of opening up their own shop. Their talents helped us deliver on personalized marketing.

Here is a short list of clients whose yummy treats have a story to tell:

Audi AG is a German automobile manufacturer known for its precision in engineering and four connected rings. Thanks to TheSugarShackNJ, we were able to send them German Chocolate Cake Truffles.

GTT, which stands for Global Telecom and Technology, is a global cloud-networking provider. They provide high-performance networks for companies like IBM. GTT is always in the cloud, which is why the logo-covered marshmallows from CandyWithATwist was a perfect fit.

Land Rover North America designed a vehicle to withstand all manner of terrain, which is why we wanted to send them some rocky roads. And only the best gourmet rocky road fudge from the Mackinac Island Fudge shop would do.

Mine Safety Appliances, or MSA Safety, makes high tech devices that literally save the lives of workers who might be exposed to a variety of hazardous conditions. Their oxygen-breathing product is designed for use in mines. So, of course, we had to send them rolls of LifeSavers candies.

NADA Used Car Guides have set the industry standard for authoritative vehicle pricing and information since 1933. Whether you’re at a car auction or standing in front of a fleet of 18-wheelers, their gold and blue book represents the pinnacle of new and used vehicle data points. What could be more appropriate than dozens of gold and blue M & Ms?

NAI Michael is a commercial real estate company that has been a pivotal part of the building blocks of Prince George’s County Maryland. What could be better than edible Legos? We sent them bags of Candy Blox, which have the texture of a Sweetheart and come in an assortment of flavors and colors, much like the types of properties NAI Michael provides brokerage services for.

Etsy’s CandyKames shop makes detailed chocolate cookies in the shape of sweet little angels. The folks over at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children watch over the children and have definitely earned their wings. We sent them all three flavors (white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate) as well as a ton of our appreciation for fighting the good fight.

Prince George’s Community College is in a county that proudly provides a home to the National Harbor shops, hotels and entertainment spaces. One of those shops called IT’SUGAR makes the most scrumptious chocolate covered Oreos. And what marketer doesn’t appreciate Oreos these days. We sent them a heart shaped box with nine pieces.

Check back to this blog to see how our experiment turns out. We’ll keep updating it with feedback and photos as they come in.