The Brochure Can Tell a Story Too
The sales letter is the most logical place for story-telling in a direct mail package. After all, that's where people expect to be reading long copy. But there's also a way to incorporate the same drama into your brochure, without weighing down this element with lots of text.
The marketing challenge for the Thomas Register, a directory of North American manufacturing companies that is available in print, CD-ROM and DVD-ROM format, is to make tangible the benefits of an information tool. Pictures of book covers and CDs are not all that exciting.
What does make the Thomas Register's prospects' hearts race is the scenario presented in this four-color, tri-panel brochure. The cover panel presents two men, Jack and Phil, starting their work day at the same company. The rest of the story line unfolds, as each panel is opened to reveal the problem dropped into the laps of Jack and Phil: a work stoppage due to a machine breakdown. A time stamp in the upper left corner of every picture adds drama to the situation. As time ticks away, both Jack and Phil search for a solution, with Jack coming out the winner because he used the Thomas Register.
Alisa Fogel, marketing director for Thomas Register, explains that the directory crosses many industries and job titles, which makes it challenging to find some common ground for all user groups. If her direct mail efforts get too specific with usage scenarios, she risks alienating a significant number of prospects.
But this scenario, crafted by Roska Direct, the direct response advertising agency of record for the Thomas Register for 17 years and counting, works for the entire audience and plays to personal experience, says Fogel.
Another key detail is showing Jack using all the different versions of the directory. Fogel says that customers often buy the print version and either the CD-ROM or the DVD-ROM. By depicting all the product versions, no user group is left out.
The brochure, which was first tested in 1999 and rolled out in 2000, is part of a 6" x 9" envelope mailing that is the current control for Thomas Register, says Fogel. The other elements include a one-page letter and a BRC order form that uses gold response stickers to entice involvement. Fogel reports that she has tested mailing without the stickers, but they just work too well. She does, however, update the stickers to keep this device looking fresh.