We released a new experimental extension for Magento to help printers and marketers get into direct mail market. The extension is very simple yet it does the job. Add it to a web-to-print site and you get a one stop shop for direct mail.
How it works
The map shows in product details as a custom option. The user clicks on it several times to select the area of distribution and the coordinates of the polygon are saved with the order. They can be downloaded as a KML file. A low-tech solution would be to get the description of the area from the map as it shows in order details. The map can be zoomed in and out to get the boundaries more accurately.
Direct mail for small businesses
Ever tried to do a small scale direct mail campaign?
We want to make it easy for any printing or marketing company to cover this under-served segment of the market.
- local political candidate
- small community orientated business like restaurants, hair dresses, local shops
- clubs and other community orientated organisations
These types of businesses think on a very small scale with a very limited budget. The task is likely to be performed by someone not committed to it enough to jump through too many loops and hoops. It’s got to be quick, simple and cost effective to be of any use to them.
Our web-to-print and distribution map extensions come together into an elegant solution. It is online, it is simple and the cost of doing the transaction is negligible.
A very important part of it is the intuitive use of the map. The customer is not constrained by selecting a postcode area or some predefined shape like a rectangular or circle. The selection is an arbitrary polygon that runs along the streets the customer is interested in.
Consider a restaurant. They know the local dynamics and can target the area of just a few blocks away from them. They also have a limited budget. So the thinking is likely to be like this: “I have $x and it buys me N leaflets distributed along these streets. Let’s do it.” and this is exactly what web-to-print and distribution map extensions offer.
What’s in it for printers and marketers
The way the market is structured at the moment works for a small pool of large advertisers. Postal authorities and alternative mail distributors are not interested in the small business because of the high cost of transaction and low profit margin. Try using their online tools, test your patience.
You can capture a slice of this dissatisfied market by offering them the service as a value-add to your core design and printing services. The key here is the low cost of transaction – you can make money even on small volumes as long as it is profitable for you to print.
One big limitation
It’s important to know the number of addresses in the selected area at the time of ordering to help choose the right quantity. We were unable to obtain this data in a consistent manner yet. One of the solutions is to tie up your installation with one of list service provider. In the meantime we are looking for a generic solution.