A Personal Invitation
To stand out among the myriad of mail prospects receive every day, direct mailers need to touch a compelling nerve for each recipient. What better way than to get personal?
Obviously, getting too personal can be downright dangerous. Prospects may get a little nervous if they feel a company knows too much. But everyone likes to be approached personally, instead of with a sales pitch. With that in mind, Omaha, Neb.–based manufacturer, marketer and distributor of premium steaks, red meats and gourmet foods Omaha Steaks recently sent out a package with a more personalized feel than its standard control (Archive code #355-171626-0801C).
Traditionally, Omaha Steaks has used a basic #10 outer envelope along with copy and layout that looks really promotional. However, in January, the gourmet foods purveyor decided to switch things up in its direct mail strategy. Always open to new ideas, Omaha Steaks was looking for a way to get more in touch with its potential consumers. It began with an OE that significantly deviates from the standard #10 package—a smaller 5-1⁄4˝ x 7-1⁄2˝ invitational envelope with less promotional and more formal type treatment. The very simple design includes the text, “Your Gift Certificate is Enclosed!” along with Omaha Steaks’ logo and return address.
Once inside, the personal touch continues with a “Special Invitation For a Select Few.” This invitation makes the prospect feel wanted—welcoming him or her to open it. The invitation itself is actually a letter to inform the prospective customers of the company and invite them to accept the exclusive offer. “We try to change things up often to keep our mailings fresh,” says Maggie Nelsen, database manager for Omaha Steaks. “We thought this invitational format might generate more interest than a more traditional direct mail piece, as the design is more personal and customer-friendly.”
Nelsen is eager to see what effect this ceremonious touch has. She’s also anxious to see how the smaller size of this package holds up against the standard #10 control. Naturally, with a smaller OE, the contents were reduced in size as well. The gift certificate that accompanies the invitation is smaller than gift certificates Omaha Steaks has sent in the past, and the BRE is also smaller. “We are experimenting with size,” Nelsen says. “The certificate and BRE are smaller in size than what we usually use, and we condensed the letter into an invitation-type formation. The overall look of the piece is more formal than many of our other mailings.”
Conventional wisdom would argue that Omaha Steaks is testing a smaller package to combat the increasing postal rates. However, Nelsen says this package actually costs no less than the typical #10 mailing; the gourmet food company was simply looking to vary its approach.
In fact, the size of the gift certificate is the only difference in the offer itself. Like every Omaha Steaks offer, there are significant savings for prospects and an offer expiration date. “We have used variations of this certificate in the past,” says Nelsen. “This time, we changed it up a bit in terms of size and gave it a different look. The offer, however, remains the same.”
Regarding the offer expiration date, Nelson says experience has shown that about a month is the right length of time, allowing for any unforeseen delays in the delivery of the piece.
The jury is still out on the new design. Omaha Steaks chose to stick with an offer it knows is compelling to prospects. However, the gourmet food company presented it in a new, courtly way. If the results come back as Nelsen hopes, Omaha Steaks plans to do a major mailing of the piece in the future, and a “Select Few” are invited.