Five Things I Learned From the Echo Awards
By Lois K. Geller
Every year I look forward to judging The Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) Echo Awards. It's interesting to get a bird's eye view of dozens of direct mail, TV and radio campaigns from business-to-business and business-to-consumer direct marketers.
Recently, I walked over to The DMA headquarters on 6th Avenue to look at the winners. Many of the submissions were foreign campaigns. Sure, the Echos are an international competition, but in previous years there appeared to be many more U.S. entries. Maybe this year, after Sept. 11, we played it safe and mailed our controls, and didn't test as much.
Here are some other observations.
1. Breakthrough Service = Breakthrough Direct Mail
This was the case for Shell Oil in Argentina. It developed a program similar to Mobil's SpeedPass.
The three-dimensional package had a headline that, translated into English, read: "Unlike Formula One race drivers, you won't need any assistance." Inside the package was a small race car and the "transponder" on a key chain. When recipients use the transponder to fill up at Shell's special gas pumps, their credit cards are directly charged and they earn points for Shell's loyalty program.
The program received a 53-percent response rate from its existing customers. I wonder what would happen if it mailed only the transponder?
2. If Your Creative Sounds Human, It Will Work
First Bank tried this approach when it launched Momentum Banking, a rewards-based package of consumer banking services targeted to high-value customers.
It took an honest, "human" approach with its copy:
At First Bank, anything is possible. With nearly $6 billion in assets, we have the size to make things happen. Being family-owned, we have the flexibility to make them happen for you.
The bank mailed a shopping bag with a letter and brochure explaining its services. The shopping bag was shrink-wrapped with a label on the outside that read, "Bag up to hundreds of dollars a year in savings." The brochure asked "Why shop around?" and then proceeded to help prospects do just that by providing comparison charts of its products versus the competition.