Left Brain or Right Brain? The Science and Art of Developing Direct Mail Campaigns

Written by Joel Basa, e-Marketing Manager at Xerox Corporation
Are you left brained or right brained? Not sure (find out here)? For those of you who have been involved in the process of developing direct marketing campaign, you (and your team) probably were required to exercise both sides of your brain (maybe to your dismay).

I recently read Xerox Business Development Tool “Profiting through Personalization II” (featuring XMPie). It is a detailed resource to executing a successful campaign. It also indentifies 6 critical elements for developing a successful variable data/cross-media campaign in a digital printing environment.

  1. Strategy
  2. Data Sources
  3. Offers
  4. Call To Action
  5. Creative
  6. Measurement

In my experience on the job, I believe it’s critical to not only look at these elements, but to also have the proper personnel that can excel in that particular element. If you buy into the left/right brain theory, selecting individuals whose “brain-sideness” better matches the elements could be beneficial. I’ll give you my take on each element and assign a “side”.
Strategy – Left AND Right
For me, a strategy requires both the science of data analysis coupled with the art of attractive creative and offer selection. When paired correctly, the primary objective (ex. lead generation) can more likely be accomplished. Collaboration between those that are Left and Right brain is critical to overall success of the strategy.
Data Sources – Left
I would consider Data Sources to be a left brain function. Pattern recognition (such as buying habits, geo-targeting, etc) and analytics is critical to developing the proper audiences which in my opinion allows you to map out the offers, creative and measurements for the campaign.
Offers – Left AND Right
Once again, I believe this element, to be selected optimally, must be the combination of the left and the right brain. Analytics are required to identify feasibility of fulfilling an offer but creativity is required to select offers that are considered attractive based on your targeted audience.
Call to Action – Left OR Right
In my opinion, the call to action can be determined by either Left or Right brain thinkers (but I could be convinced otherwise). Regardless, this element needs to be clear and instruct recipients how to respond.
Creative – Right (but don’t forget about the Left)
Developing impactful creative that leverages technology could make the difference between success and failure. For me, it’s clear that creative development would require those with a Right Brain function. However, don’t forget about the logic (Left Brain Function) behind personalization of the piece.
Measurement – Left
There are various ways to measure the success of your campaign, focusing on the data requires analytics and logic, all which fall into Left brain.
Developing successful Direct Mail campaigns, is it better done by Left Brain individuals or Right? Is it more of an art or more of a science? What are your thoughts?
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  1. Amit June 8, 2011 -

    (Xerox Employee)

    I am a right dominant based on the assessment here – score was R-14, L-8. I have done HBDI assessment too and I actually am frontal dominant …
    Everything needs to have a balance between arts and science.. but at the same time the major portion of either art or science that is needed should be based on the target audience or market..afterall balance is a relative term and I think campaigns would be useless if they don’t address the actual target market and we have multiple segments..so we have to change the “shape” of the campaign accordingly for it to be successful .. on the other hand the team creating it should be complementing each other’s skill in the team to create the appropriate DM campaigns.

    • Joel Basa June 9, 2011 -

      Amit, taking a long hard look at the target audience is very important. I also believe what you’re promoting/marketing may also affect the type of language you choose…language that is more “left” oriented or “right oriented. The combination of audience + what you’re marketing may affect the composition of your team.

  2. Noel Ward June 9, 2011 -

    I actually score pretty evenly 7 left, 8 right, so the rest of the answers must wind up neutral. Have always thought of myself as right brained, but typically use logic to solve problems, although add in a big measure of creativity.

    In the worklplace, the best results come from a balance and mix of both, and multiple people with both types of brains.

    • Joel Basa June 9, 2011 -

      Noel, I also scored pretty evenly. I agree, balance is the best in the workplace but I also think challenging those that may lean towards one side in activity that exercises their “weak” side is healthy.

  3. Amit June 10, 2011 -

    @ Joel – I agree with you.

    I wonder if the pre-Gen X generation of people are left-brain dominant and Gen X & post-Gen X people are right-brain dominant .. it would be interesting to see the marketing campaigns that were done in the 80s-90s vs those that were done in the last decade of the 21st century.. the ads have evolved for sure ..and so it would be interesting to see if the marketing campaigns have evolved from being left brained targeted to being right brained in the 21st century or not.

    Here are 2 articles that throws more light on the left/ right brained –



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