My boss’s wife has a knack for baking, and recently she’s been practicing her sweet talents at our location.  Instead of the generic marble sheet cakes that served as a blanket celebration for the monthly birthdays and anniversaries, we’ve been surrounded with beautiful and unique cupcake creations.  For example, the little man to the left is from our Christmas luncheon. He stands proudly atop a spicy gingerbread cake and is surrounded by a pillow of cinnamon cream cheese frosting and sugary ice crystals.  Impressive, right? It’s no wonder the cupcake market has sky-rocketed over the past few years.  In today’s culture, generic mass-produced goods are being outshined by the customized and unique. 
What could that mean for the direct marketing industry?  As a consumer,  I can tell you that a well-designed piece of direct mail captures my attention and provides the unique, customized look that stands out and prompts action.  For example, every year my favorite local dive sends me an actual birthday card with a coupon for a free meal inside. As another example, not only does the local pet store send a coupon for my dog’s birthday, but they also send coupons for her quarterly meds and grooming needs. My favorite coupons are codes scanned by my phone at home and redeemed by my phone at the register.  Basically, in the chaos of juggling life, mail that’s customized to my interest and spending habits captures my attention much more than a generic and unrelated mailing “To the Current Resident." This personalization sets these mailings apart from the many others that land in my mailbox daily.
Take some time and review our marketing trends for 2013.  With the growing incentives to integrate media, now is the time to engage your target audience and go beyond a ‘vanilla’ mass-mailing into a customized experience that brings your customers back for more.