Toe to Toe With the Competition
"Now you can get at least ONE MORE HOUR of productive time each day than Day-Timer or other planning systems can give you ... GUARANTEED." This teaser on the front of the outer envelope of Planner Pads' long-term control is the planner system company's opening salvo in its competition with market adversaries Day-Timers, Franklin Covey, Day Runner and others (Archive code #104-174747-0503).
While Planner Pads is taking on all other planning systems, especially those that do not feature its week-at-a-glance model, the primary focus of its aggressive marketing tactic is Day-Timers. Not only is this company a leading brand name in the planning system category, but it does quite a bit of sales through direct mail. So, Day-Timers' and Planner Pads' paths are sure to cross in prospects' mailboxes.
The genius of this approach is that it allows Planner Pads to indirectly sell the need for a planner by challenging the efficacy of the market leader's product. And every element of the package strives to support this claim of superiority.
The outer envelope lays down the challenge, as well as the guarantee. A quote from Planner Pads President Bill Crosson on the back of the outer envelope promises to buy dissatisfied customers a new Day-Timer. In case this isn't enough reason to open the envelope, prospects are teased with the mention of two free executive gifts.
a four-page letter, four-page brochure, lift note, buckslip, order form and CRE work in concert to convince prospects to accept a six-month trial of the Planner Pad system. In particular, the letter positions the Planner Pad competitively by explaining the key difference between this product and other planning systems, and builds the need for the product by detailing the benefits of being better organized. A blend of expert and customer testimonials lend credence to Planner Pads' claim of being a more productive time management system.
Interestingly enough, one of the organizational experts quoted is Robert Bly, who happens to be the copywriter who created this control. It's disturbing that this fact is not disclosed somehow, since the letter is signed by Crosson. But Bly is, indeed, the author of a book on time management, so his credentials are solid.
For planning systems, part of the proof is in the demonstration. The letter provides both a sample weekly schedule, with features and benefits presented in call outs, and two references to the package's brochure. Within the brochure, prospects find more product details, including format, binding and cover choices. In fact, the brochure is its own self-contained sales unit, offering product information, pricing, more testimonials from customers and third-party experts, a guarantee and ordering details. Prospects can hold on to this piece while contemplating their decision, or share it with a friend or family member. (Planner Pads leverages referrals to the hilt by providing space on the back of the CRE for responders to write in the names and contact information for two additional prospects.)
Since switching to a new planning system is like getting a new cell phoneit involves a certain amount of work to copy over static information and it takes time to get used to the new system's featuresPlanner Pads helps overcome prospects' reluctance to change with a top-notch guarantee. On top of a full refund of the Planner Pad purchase price, dissatisfied customers will receive reimbursement on the purchase of their next Day-Timer planner. The package's lift note offers this no-risk deal, reaffirming the benefits of using a Planner Pad and presenting a personal guarantee from Crosson.
A two-color buckslip adds further grist to the decision mill: Planner Pads woos prospects with a free executive pen and an audiocassette of time management tips. Both premiums are free to prospects who accept the six-month trial offer.
The Who's Mailing What! Archive has been receiving this package two to three times a year since at least 2002, suggesting that this mailing is a highly successful control for Planner Pads. Another hint comes from Crosson's polite but firm refusal to talk about the mailing. "I prefer to stay off the radar," were his exact words.
The only drawback of this strategy: If it works too well, Crosson will have to create a new control when Planner Pads is the market leader. But that's a problem worth having.