A Shipshape Recruiting Effort
Planning, analysis and refinement are key components to achieving any goal. For the U.S. Navy, these processes apply as readily to the challenge of finding and attracting top talent as they do to fighting a battle on the high seas. Given the Navy’s continual state of readiness for the latter situation, it is well-suited then to use direct mail effectively to tackle the former objective.
With the assistance of its agency of record, Campbell-Ewald, the Navy Recruiting Command has been enjoying smooth sailing with a #10 envelope control effort that leverages a phone card premium and motivational messaging to encourage prospective recruits to take a phone survey (Archive code #717-667156-0610).
According to Cmdr. David Hostetler, director of advertising plans for the Navy, the organization first tested this mailing in 2001, receiving such strong performance that it has continued to mail it ever since. The Navy’s target audience for recruitment is individuals between the ages of 17 and 24, so drops are scheduled for February and September to coincide with the start of the school year and when people in this age range are most likely to be making decisions about their futures.
The effort features a large window on the front through which the mailing address, phone card premium and teaser show; inside, an 8-1⁄2˝ x 11˝ letter with personalized salutation and high-energy copy drums up enthusiasm for the phone card premium and for exploring a career with the Navy. The call to action drives prospects to dial a toll-free number to acti-vate the phone card, with activation contingent on them taking part in a phone survey.
Hostetler explains that the survey is an automated, menu-driven interactive device that collects basic contact information on prospects after delivering a few general interest questions. A message at the end of the process informs prospects they will be contacted by a Navy recruiter—who will confirm activation of the phone card premium—in the near future.
And that’s the primary goal for this mailing: Facilitate personal contact between prospects and recruiters. “The Navy is a vast organization,” Hostetler states, noting that a one-on-one conversation between a recruiter and a prospect is far more effective at presenting a good perspective on what benefits the Navy has to offer than other lead fulfillment activities.
Of course, this lead-generation mailing is no island; it’s part of a media mix that includes broadcast, Internet, e-mail, print and other direct mail campaigns, says Hostetler.
As for the results, Hostetler emphasizes that the particular approach “fits our needs,” and shares a colleague’s characterization of this campaign as the “best lead generator” out of all the direct mail efforts the Navy currently conducts. Even more telling, some recruitment offices have called to tell Hostetler and team that the campaign is producing too many quality leads to follow up on.
One aspect of the campaign that’s intriguing to Hostetler is that testing continues to prove the phone card premium a winner. When the Navy first tested the phone card offer with the initial mailing, “cell phones weren’t in their heyday, and every [high school] senior wasn’t walking around with one,” he notes. But the phone card still pulls well with this audience, despite the changing times. Guess the pay phone isn’t a dinosaur, after all.