Anthem National Accounts' Kelly Colbert on the Use of High-Impact Direct Mail
In the B-to-B world, especially when targeting benefits managers and human resource managers from corporations with at least 5,000 employees, sending yet another #10 envelope and follow-up e-mail just won’t do the trick. These folks are bombarded on a daily basis and tend toward the purge/delete response. But they might, just might, stop for a second with high-impact direct mail, especially if it not only catches their eye, but also starts a conversation.
That is what the “Ecosphere” campaign did for Anthem National Accounts, a division of Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Co-conceived with the agency Wikreate, the glass globe containing self-sustaining shrimp and algae was sent in a box, with the message, “Simple … is more complex than it looks.” It went out to 500 companies and earned a phenomenal 22 percent response—with prospects either going to the microsite or calling an Anthem representative. Respondents also averaged 3.5 minutes on the microsite, with 50 percent of them leaving testimonials about its video.
Along with the ecosphere, the mailing included a brochure explaining it (requiring little natural or artificial light or added food, the ecosphere will regenerate itself for two years or longer) and information about Anthem, including a push to its microsite where it hoped to generate leads. I spoke with Kelly Colbert, Anthem’s director of marketing, about how it was developed.
Boldt: Did the marketing message come before the decision to go high-impact?
Colbert: That’s right. The strategic nuggets were: What is our position in the market? Where are our competitors? And what do we really have to offer? These were big brand companies, and the competition is fierce to get some share of mind from them.
What we heard time and time again from these national companies is that everyone has wellness programs of some sort, everyone offers flexible product designs of some sort, but simplicity is really missing from the mix. So we sought to operationally simplify and make ourselves easier to do business with, and then we looked for a campaign theme that really allowed us to express that in a meaningful way. And that’s when we landed on the ecosphere.
Boldt: How did you arrive at the decision to use high-impact direct mail?
Colbert: There is some added expense, of course, so you have to have a really strong strategy to pay out the ROI. Our agency explored high-impact direct mail to reach prospects. We were looking into a positioning that “simple is a lot more complex than it looks,” and these national accounts were looking for a carrier that would make doing business a lot simpler. So that was sort of the genesis of the creative idea.
Wikreate came up with a fabulous way to express that, in a high-impact way, and that really captured the notion of simplify. The ecosphere also expressed the complexity of health insurance but showed that by unfurling that complexity, you can create a really simple experience for your customers.