A Purse-full of Response
Let's pretend you're a women's fashion retail chain with a store credit card program. You ink a deal with VISA to launch a co-branded credit card that will replace what store card-holders currently use. You not only need to notify these customers that a new card will be showing up in their mailboxes, but you want to encourage them to activate and use the card. Standing in your way is a dismal industry-average response rate of one-percent or less to credit card acquisition offers, and the possibility that your mailing will be perceived as guilty by association.
When presented with this situation in March 2000, Fashion Bug asked direct marketing agency Heinrich Relationship Marketing, in Denver, CO, to come up with "something outside of the box," says Heinrich's Gina Bobbitt. Instead, Account Supervisor Cathy Peeper, copywriter Cyndi Williams and designer Bobbitt created a mailing that was out of the bag, so to speak, and won a 2000 Echo Award from The Direct Marketing Association.
Heinrich specializes in credit card mailings, says Bobbitt, so the agency is aware that the recent trend in this category has been high circulation mailings with declining response rates. To get noticed, Bobbitt says the creative team knew this effort needed to stand out. When she stepped back and took a look at the plethora of credit card solicitations she was receiving in her own mailbox, Bobbitt's impression was that they often seemed cold and stark, talking only about APRs and annual fees.
Knowing that their target market was females who loved fashion and shopping, Bobbitt and Williams determined Fashion Bug card-holders would be more receptive to warm, fun creative. The result was a clear, plastic purse and a pink/white design scheme featuring stripes and vanity tools for the inside pieces. A card-stock insert that curved inside the purse served as both the addressing piece and the billboard for the headline, "We're going to pad your pocket!" A tiny letter pre-alerted recipients on the arrival of the card and gave two reasons to look for the mailing: a $50 certificate for Fashion Bug packaged with the card and a rebate program on all purchases. A four-panel, four-color brochure outlined the card's features and benefits in more detail; especially enticing is a rebate chart that gives sample spending levels, like $600, and what shoppers can buy with their resulting $20 rebate, like a pair of capri pants. Logo tissue paper fills out the purse, which mailed to 200,000 card-holders.
Bobbitt and Williams also created a second mailing, a 6" x 9" envelope package with a purse-shaped die-cut window, that reached another 200,000 card-holders. The effort featured the same brochure and a larger letter. The concept of this second mailing also served as the structure for the follow-up mailing that was sent to customers who had been mailed replacement cards, but not activated or used them to make a purchase. The letter was versioned to bring out another benefit, a $25 credit that would cover the annual fee, to give non-respondents a different reason to use the card.
The cost of the purse mailing was only a little more than the price of a four-color, high varnish 6" x 9" envelope package, reports Bobbitt. Since this campaign was going to a customer file, she adds that they knew that getting people into the package was the primary goal; the rebates and other incentives would likely be enough persuasion to get customers to activate their new cards.
Does this sound like it worked? Fashion Bug received a 25-percent response to the purse mailer and, interestingly, a 22-percent response to the 6" x 9" envelope package.
Bobbitt says knowing the target market well enough to tailor the creative to them, especially since they were all women, was a crucial component of the campaign.
The icing on the cake of this campaign is a postcard mailing featuring little girls playing dress-up that thanks Fashion Bug customers who activated and used their cards. The agency's name, after all, is Heinrich Relationship Marketing.