In the Mail With a High-wire Act
In what seems like an homage to the 20 years in print that Inside Direct Mail is celebrating, the Who's Mailing What! Archive received a mailing in August that blends a little bit of the old in direct mail techniques with some of the new.
Systemware Inc., a developer of regulatory compliance solutions, takes a step into the past with an all-purpose 10" x 13" First Class envelope that contains individual envelope packages hand-addressed to multiple prospects within one company (836SYSTEM0804). While this particular effort received by the Archive contained just one hand-addressed envelope, this technique has been used in the past to save money on postage and materials when attempting to mail deeply into a target company. It also was used when a B-to-B marketer had titles rather than contact names. The main envelope was addressed to the mailroom, in the hopes that a department member would route the individual pieces through inter-office mail.
Obviously, the success of such a campaign hinged on the mailroom not tossing the whole effort in the trash. It's a curiosity to see this technique used again, since many B-to-B marketers dropped it when large corporations lashed out against untargeted mail with bans on the acceptance of advertising mail by their mailrooms. Systemware appears to be betting that times have changed enough to make this approach a novelty.
To give mailroom personnel a heads-up that it needs their help, Systemware affixes a day-glo yellow sticker on the lower left front of the effort's outer envelope that asks them to "Please distribute to recipient(s) as addressed inside package."
What's inside is a 6-1/2" x 9-1/2" white envelope that features the Systemware logo and return address pre-printed in the cornercard and the prospect's name handwritten in the center. Accompanying this second envelope package is a 3-3/4" x 8-1/2" yellow slip that basically repeats the delivery directions from the outer envelope sticker, adding this supporting line of copy: "These envelopes contain important documents."
A peek inside this second envelope reveals a 5-1/2" x 8-1/2" card insert displaying the image of a man balancing with a pole on a tightrope, as viewed from the ground; a plastic mesh rectangle is glued over the image, representing the safety net. The absence of copy on the image side forces the recipient to take a look at the reverse, where a single URL is printed: www.UseOurNet.com/jamesXXXXXX.
When you know a Web site has been created exclusively for you, it's hard not to check it out. In this case, the prospect is greeted with a welcome screen that features a different image of a businessman walking a tightrope and the question: "James XXXXXX, do you ever feel like you're performing the ultimate high-wire act without a safety net?" The rest of the Web copy presents the regulatory compliance issues companies must address and encourages the prospect to move deeper into the microsite to learn how his company can be prepared.
Two successive pages outline the facets of compliance, provide testimonials from satisfied customers and offer a free white paper in which The Yankee Group analyzes Systemware's solution. The request form for the white paper is pre-populated with data that Systemware already has gathered on the prospect; the only blank fields are those for the prospect's telephone number, e-mail address and industry. Of these three, only the telephone number is required for delivery of the white paper. Obviously, this is how Systemware will follow up this leg of the campaign to gauge interest in its compliance solution.
To be honest, it's more than a little bizarre that a company would invest the money to create personalized microsites, but send the traffic-driving direct mail pieces that lead prospects there via such an unsophisticated process. Is this approach just so hokey that it works?