Direct Mail Spotlight: The Other, More Responsive Youth Market
When direct mailers discuss the youth market, often it's with a hint or more of frustration and confusion. Will teenagers and college students respond to direct mail? Do they only care about the electronic way of marketing?
But there's another so-called youth market: young mothers, especially those with children less than 6 years old, and expectant mothers. Philadelphia-based direct response agency Schultz & Williams, which works with metropolitan zoos across the country, realized early on that this was the market to tap for its spring campaign for the Toledo Zoo. "We test ages," says Jessica Harrington, vice president at Schultz & Williams. "People age out of the zoo. And the oldest child often dictates the parents' purchasing decision." Meanwhile, the prenatal market is promising because many expectant mothers make purchasing choices for their children-to-be. "It's a dream of a new parent to take their kid to the zoo," Harrington says.
That dream is brought to immediate life on the #10 outer that depicts simple drawings of four happy children holding baby animals. On the bottom, it then gives mention to the word that all young parents want to hear: "affordable," as in "Join your Zoo and SAVE on a full year of affordable family fun!" (Archive code #576-717676-0905).
Precisely targeting these young mothers and young families, in early May the Toledo Zoo mailed 400,000 efforts in the Toledo, Ohio area. It coupled the mailing with e-mail, from lists that were both prospects and lapsed members, just as the mail was going to hit. A second e-mail is sent just as the discount is ending, and then a third e-mail is sent to new members for an offer to family and friends to join at the same discount.
"We've been working with the Toledo Zoo for 20 years, but this is the first year that we're doing an integrative campaign with them," states Harrington. So far, the results have been overwhelmingly positive. Eleven weeks into the campaign, the mail is getting a 2.1 percent response, 2 percent for e-mail and the average gift is $58. "It's already made $480,000—60 percent over where they were last year in terms of revenue," says Harrington.
"They say younger folks don't read mail [and sometimes not e-mail either], but here's proof that they read both ... It speaks to the fact that mail is not dead, and multichannel is where it's going," details Harrington.
The offer is hammered home on the back of the outer. A sunburst says, "you won't get a better deal." The teaser reads, "It's like two Zoos for the price of one! Join now to SAVE 10% on a year of FREE admission and VIP benefits." Then three bullets list three more "FREE" benefits. "The key messages are that membership is affordable; it's a good value; it's family time and shared experiences," explains Harrington, who says research showed that families were cutting back on their vacations and instead doing "staycations."
Both the vacation element and the economic feasibility are spelled out in the two-page letter. But just in case prospects didn't quite understand the deal they were getting, a buckslip—that is mostly devoted to coupons for free T-shirts, meals, tours and shows—also does something that Harrington calls "doing the math." The copy reads, "Membership pays for itself on your second visit!" And that's followed by the literal math. "We do it for all of our zoo mailings. We have to do the math for people because they won't do it for themselves. It works well in this economy especially," she asserts.
One other element that wasn't wasted is the back of the reply form—a grid that lists what's free for each membership level is shown. "It helps people who are scanning," says Harrington.
Campaign Goes Viral?
Young mothers are often active on the web, and the direct response agency Schultz & Williams is trying to take advantage of the fact in its recent campaign for the Toledo Zoo—not just with e-mail connected to its direct mail, but also in the blogosphere. "We send an e-mail to a few select prospects to try to get them to pass it on to their own social network," says Jessica Harrington, vice president at Schultz & Williams. "It's a way to see if they can get more traction for their campaign. We've seen our campaigns for other zoos get on the mommy blogs, and it goes viral. So that can be very effective."