Something unusual popped up in the mail stream this past holiday season, and it's a mailing that I'm hard-pressed to define. It's part catalog and part magalog, but it's also part Web-traffic builder and part retail-traffic builder. Oh, and it's geared to both consumers and businesses. At the very least, it's confusing. At the most, it's the seed of an idea that might work with better execution.
It is a catalog-style self-mailer from retailer Best Buy titled The Wonder Book. Inside are 46 pages of electronics, appliances, DVDs and video games
interspersed with editorial on topics like how to select an MP3 player or the right speakers for a home theater system (810BESBUY1103). In addition, Best Buy throws in a couple of house ads promoting its store credit card, its Web site, in-store shopping and the benefits of a retail career with the company. On top of all this, some of the product sections feature branding messages and images from the manufacturer of one or two of the products shown, which makes flipping through the mailing a truly disjointed experience.
Where things take another turn is in the transformation of this consumer-oriented Wonder Booka sort of wish list for adultsinto a sales piece for corporate incentive and gift programs. Via the application of a large sticker that wraps around the middle of the self-mailer and the inclusion of a multi-panel insert, the Wonder Book mailing is now positioned for marketing managers, human resource professionals and others in charge of purchasing gifts for employees, best customers, etc.
And while the corporate-incentive ideas insert can't be expected to explain the Wonder Book to corporate recipients, it actually blurs the message further. A letter in the insert from Al Keenan, the director of the BestBuyBiz Commercial Sales Team, switches back and forth between references to content in the Wonder Book and images in the insert. It's hard to tell where to look for the informationin the Wonder Book or in the insertthat Keenan suggests will be a help to busy incentive program managers. Throughout the insert, mentions of the Wonder Book coupled with product images that are not in the self-mailer add to the confusion.
Once you get past the execution problems of this B-to-B effort, however, you find some really useful content. For example, three pages of the insert are
devoted to three different price levels for incentive products, providing ideas for employees, customers and sales prospects. This is a nice touch for BestBuyBiz's target audience, who likely appreciate any assistance in quickly finding items that fit the budget for their corporate incentive/gift programs. And another panel provides insights from BestBuyBiz employees (I'm assuming here, since they're not identified) who report on incentive/gift trends in various industries; the real-world examples allow companies to
assess their programs' perceived value against other programs. Finally, BestBuyBiz offers coupons for rock-bottom deals on a Palm Pilot PDA and a Sanyo compact refrigerator, as well as cash discounts on orders of a specific sizemaking this a true direct response effort.
Trying to reach two audiences with different needs in one effort, as we've seen in this BestBuyBiz mailing, can get tricky. For this reason, most catalogers either create a separate catalog for their B-to-B efforts, or reserve space in their consumer efforts for messages that announce their corporate incentives and provide a special toll-free number to call for details.
Otherwise, the success of a hybrid campaign necessitates better coordination between the B-to-B materials and the main promotion.