Message & Media: The Kit Factor
Direct response writers are always on the prowl for words to make their marketing concepts more compelling and more effective in generating a click, a call or a store visit.
Often all it takes is one word to make all the difference in how a product, offer or mailpiece is perceived. This one word can dramatically change response.
Take the word kit. What do you think of when you think of a kit?
According to Webster's dictionary, a kit is a collection of articles. It can be a personal travel kit, a set of carpentry tools, a collection of parts to be assembled into something like a model airplane, a packaged collection of related materials such as a convention or membership kit—the possibilities are endless.
A kit is comprehensive, complete, everything you need. Calling your product, offer or mailpiece a kit makes your customer think differently about you and what you're offering. The word kit adds value and implies convenience. Providing your customer with a kit can also separate you from the competition.
Yes, a single three-letter word can do all this. I call it the "Kit Factor."
Here are some examples to jumpstart your thinking about how to add kits to your own marketing mix.
Catalog marketers have long enjoyed the benefits of pulling together a group of lower-priced products to create a higher price point and higher average order. Instead of calling it a bundle or set, how about calling it a kit? In a quick search online, in catalogs and at a couple of favorite stores, I found the following product kits:
- Back-to-School Kit
- Industrial Troubleshooting Kit
- Patio Tomato Kit
- 17-piece Flex Shaft Kit
- Jewelry Making Kit
- Preschool Prep Kit
- 71-piece Air Tool Kit
- Emergency Survival Kit
- Chicken Noodle Soup Kit
- Kite Kit
Tip: Did you notice that a couple of these kits include piece counts? It's a small detail that adds huge value.
One of my favorites on the list is the Reames Hearty Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup Kit with "Everything you need included … Just add water!" Packaged in a box and found in the freezer case, this soup separates itself from all the other chicken noodle soups found in cans and foil envelopes on the soup aisle. The difference? It's a kit! I didn't check the price, but it wouldn't surprise me if it costs more than competitive products. And why not? It's a complete kit. And a brilliant marketing idea.
Almost everything I know about the power of the word kit, I learned from one of my first B-to-B direct marketing mentors, Earl Hogan. Our agency's assignment from the client Labconco was to beat the control and generate more leads. The lead generation offer that the fume hood manufacturer had been using in its space ads and direct mail is one still favored by oh-so-many industrial/commercial marketers—free information. It's boring, generic and promises only that it's free. The fulfillment piece was a catalog. You could count on one hand the number of leads that were generated with this offer each time it ran in a space ad.
By taking the same catalog, adding a comparison checklist of the four top fume hood manufacturers and a strong sales letter, we created the FREE "How to Choose the Right Fume Hood" Kit. The results in the mail and space advertising increased dramatically. In fact, the increase was so dramatic, I'm not going to reveal it. You might not believe me.
Looking back, I realize the game-changing success of this offer was actually quite simple. It was based on the direct marketing best practice of focusing on benefits, not features. The name of the kit promised a benefit, then the fulfillment kit delivered on the promise. It provided value and helpful advice which positioned Labconco as the best source for the best problem-solving product.
I took the lesson learned from Earl and Labconco and have since created offer kits that have identified qualified prospects and upgraded customers for everything from mutual funds and burial insurance to wedding invitations, scroll saws and gardening supplies.
Direct Mail Kits
In recent years there's been a trend to use the Kit Factor to create engaging direct mail promotions. The fact that I'm seeing the same direct mail marketers remailing their kit solicitation packages tells me the Kit Factor works for them, too.
Here's the big "aha": In some cases, they are changing nothing about the contents of the previous control mailing. They are simply incorporating the word kit into the outer envelope teaser copy. This means kits are more likely to get opened and are generating higher response without adding cost. Bingo! The Kit Factor reigns again.
Here are some examples of direct mail kits I've seen and received:
• Welcome Kit generating new customers for a marketer of women's fashions, as well as a New Subscriber Welcome Kit for a gourmet cooking magazine.
• Christmas Gift Kit to past donors filled with freemiums including a note pad, return address labels, personalized calendar and gift stickers. The purpose? Donor upgrade.
• Donor Kit from the American Heart Association delivering a presumptive "Certificate of Appreciation" for a gift donation yet to be made.
• Appointment Kit from LasikPlus Vision Center complete with a personalized appointment card reminder for scheduling an appointment by phone or online.
Now it's your turn to think of how to apply the Kit Factor. Create your own kit success story, then keep me posted. I may share it in a future column.