Nothing beats direct mail for the impact of imagery. Not email, certainly. Perhaps not even video carries the drama of a vibrant, colorful photograph you can hold in your hands. Done right, you can almost taste it. That's what Cinnabon discovered last holiday season when it sent nearby businesses a giant poster displaying the company's delectable, gooey cinnamon buns.
Looks good enough to smell
The campaign focused on 100 Cinnabon store locations and targeted 60,000 businesses located within a two-mile radius of each of those stores. The poster reminded potential customers working in the area that Cinnabon was just a coffee break away.
Each poster also included 20 perforated coupons. Cinnabon President Geoff Hill reported that the redemption rate of the coupons was an impressive 4.6 percent. That workers chose to take Cinnabon up on its coupon offer was great news, Hill said. But the main campaign objective was to ensure the stores' neighbors knew the bakeries were nearby and available to offer a quick treat for their fellow workers — even if they never have time to peruse the local mall.
Smells good enough to open
Scent has the power to trigger images, memories and emotions like no other branding tool, yet is usually ignored by marketers, according to "Whiff! The Revolution of Scent Communication in the Information Age" by C. Russell Brumfield. In the near future, Brumfield says, every product and experience will offer a unique scent capable of delivering a strategically focused branding message.
Paper can be infused with microcapsules that release a smell each time it is touched, adding the sensation of smell to the direct mail experience. To prove a point, Royal Mail in the U.K. used the technology for a mailing of its own to 6,500 top media decision makers. In referring to the A4 "chocolate" letter, Anthony Miller, head of media development at Royal Mail, says: "From our own results, this was the highest recall we've ever had for a campaign, at more than 80 percent."
The aromatic mailing was also taken up by other advertisers — a chain of garden centers used a cut-grass smell. Cost: Adding the smell increases production costs by 10 percent to 20 percent.
A colorful picture isn't the only direct mail offering that capitalizes on the recipient's senses. As technology evolves, sound, too, is being added to print media. Also called "web-enabled print" ads, tiny touchables can be affixed to a magazine page that readers can "click on" to make something happen.
For example, an advertiser might mail a coupon or send a free sample to a customer who clicks on the ad. Snappables are a really "cool" technology that — given the chance — most people can't resist "trying out." And magazines aren't the only delivery vehicle. Also think direct mail, newspapers, apparel, brochures, in-store displays, packaging, etc.
"Mobile activation marketing" — already well-accepted in Asia — is the end game for technologies applied to print. LinkMe's technology combines visual, voice and audio recognition — which means you can connect a print image to your mobile phone via voice and sound. All you have to do is say something like, "Nike Tennis shoes in Nov. 3 issue of Women's Day" and the image will appear on your mobile phone.
Here's a taste of things to come
Meanwhile, the Australia Post reports on another sensual possibility from Down Under.
With Peel 'n Taste® technology, the flavor of a product is replicated and applied to a compact, dissolving, wafer-thin, edible film strip and tipped onto the mail piece. Each strip is individually packaged in tamper-resistent, easy-to-open sachets. It's cost-effective, easy and safe to use, and consumers love it.
Find information on producing flavored, edible film strips that can be tipped onto your mail pieces at www.firstflavor.com.
Can touch be far behind?
MarketingProfs reports that many consumers use touch to gather information or make judgments, even when an item's physical form has nothing to do with its value. Interactive devices such as foldouts, die cuts, embossing, wheel charts, slide charts and various textured varnishes contribute to the direct mail experience.
So, when it comes to marketing impact, never dismiss the power of sight, smell, taste, sound and touch. Direct mail still does it best.
Crystal Uppercue is the marketing manager for EU Services, a 400-employee direct marketing production facility based in Rockville, Md. Download a free whitepaper about cross-media campaign planning at www.euservices.com.