Summer Love, Direct Mail Style
The lazy, hazy days of summer are here. (OK, by the time you read this, those days will be gone. But as I write, it's pretty humid outside and summer campaigns are still rolling into the Who's Mailing What! Archive, so how about a little "willing suspension of disbelief"?) And that means your prospects are more interested in their suntans and vacation plans than they are in your direct mail.
Up against the formidable foe of "fun in the sun," a mailer has a couple of choices: You can just keep mailing your control, hoping to catch a prospect between BBQs. You can pull back on your volume, as many mailers opt to do; to wit, in 2004 the Archive saw an 11 percent dip in mail volume for the summer months. Or, you can run with it and create a mailing that works with summer, rather than against it, just as national window retailer Pella did to promote its annual Pella Days sale.
For this year's sale, the team at Pella's marketing agency, Des Moines, Iowa-based Integer Midwest, decided to evoke the theme of summers past with a 5" x 8-1/2" folded self-mailer designed to look like an old-time postcard (Archive code #390-689733-0507). The front side of the four-panel effort reads, "Greetings from Pella Days," with "Pella Days" in large, block letters that contain images of homes and windows. Below that is the phrase, "Our biggest SALE ever!" next to an image of a large group of people staring at a large window as though it's a roadside attraction.
"Everyone has seen these postcards," says Julie Magnusson, creative director on the Pella account. "We wanted to capture that and translate it into something that would really stop people as they were looking through the mail."
It also was important to Integer to maintain that summery feel throughout the mailing by acknowledging the fact that during this season prospects would rather spend their time, thoughts and money on vacations--not replacement windows and doors.
"This time of the year, a lot of people are vacationing, doing other things. If you are going to motivate someone to buy during this period, you have to make it easy for them," asserts Bill Brasher, account supervisor for the Pella account. "So we stress that not only does Pella do the installation and have the best product, [it] also ... offers the best financing."
The postcard accomplishes this task with a few simple lines of copy that explain the offer. The address panel features one very straightforward and compelling teaser in bright red type: "No interest until 2007." Unfolded, the postcard repeats that sentiment, adding that prospects also can choose to take $50 off each window, $200 off patio doors and up to $500 off entry doors. The only other block of copy in the effort puts a more benefit-oriented spin on the offer:
Take a vacation from interest for 18 months during Pella Days!
Just relax and enjoy--Pella makes replacement easy. ... We handle everything from start to finish--including professional installation.
The postcard also offers the addresses of 10 local Pella retailers and a toll-free number, which is unique to this mailing.
As Brasher explains, most of Pella's retailers, which operate similar to franchises, are working with Pella's call center, so each mailing that Integer produces is versioned to call attention to a unique toll-free number. This allows it to track not only response to each mailing, but how those leads convert to appointments and sales. Direct mail response is then measured against Pella's other marketing channels--FSIs, newspaper ads and radio spots--in terms of gross response, cost per lead and conversion rates. According to Brasher, direct mail, which accounts for about 40 percent of Pella's marketing volume, consistently comes out on top: "We are seeing anywhere from 75 percent to 85 percent conversion of calls to sales appointments off of direct mail. And typically the average sale is a little higher as well."
This summer-themed promotion also is fairing particularly well; not only has it delivered a strong lift in response over other campaigns, but it also has garnered more interest from the retailers, who upped their direct mail usage by 35 percent over last summer.