Knowledge Is Power
The more you know ... it's more than just a commercial slogan; it's a creed for direct mailers to live by, and a mantra that the Wisconsin School of Business (WSB) displays in its latest marketing and sales courses campaign. The more you know about your customers, the more relevant you can make your communications.
The University of Wisconsin's business school offers courses aimed at mostly B-to-B professionals in the considered purchase field-purchases that have longer leads times, i.e., big decisions that perhaps have more than one stakeholder, a committee of buyers, necessity to justify the budget, etc. But within this segment, there are different disciplines—marketing, sales—for which Wisconsin School of Business offers courses.
Therefore, in order to get the right course information to the proper audience, "I really drill down to the very niche of our targets," relays Melissa Anunson, senior marketing specialist for the Wisconsin School of Business's marketing services department, "and I really segment out because I want the customer to be happy. And if it's the wrong customer, they are not going to be happy. I really need my circulation to match all the way back up to my strategy."
In order to do that, the business school sent out two versions of its latest mail campaign-one offering courses on marketing and the other on sales. These test mailings were sent to approximately 50,000 customers/prospects about 12 weeks before the courses began. Traditionally, WSB had mailed individual letter-sized self-mailers for each course it offered, but this time around, it mailed 6" x 11" bound stitched booklets that bundled several courses, creating cross-sell opportunities (Archive code #575-172849-0909A).
The two mailers were distributed simultaneously, with the marketing course booklet sent to marketing directors, VPs of marketing, product managers, communications managers and those transitioning into those positions, while the sales course booklet went to sales managers and executives. These high-end pieces use different images and teasers on the outer ("The Great Nokanduski" image with the teaser, "Well, it's one way to come up with a plan," for marketing and a typewriter backed up to a laptop with the teaser, "Change? What change?" for sales), but the layout is fairly similar.
"Both of them have a quiz in them. They have the quick facts that are meant to be eye-catching. They reinforce our expertise, and they also reinforce that our lecturers are from the real world as well," Anunson shares. "We have dedicated faculty and program directors that run the programs, but they bring in real-world lecturers and by bringing in the real-world voice in the mail piece, that also parallels the product that we're offering. The mail piece does a really good job at giving the taste tester a sample size of the product we're offering and some of the unique things about us."
There are some differences to the contents, however. Most notably, the sales course mailer is broken down in shorter segments and has less course content information than the marketing piece because "we find that salespeople are the first people to scan," says Anunson. "So we try to make it really targeted, really good nuggets, and break it down in really short segments so it's very, very readable."
Due to the economy, this campaign didn't go out against a control. It was mailed on its own and compared to results of the individual course self-mailers. With the new concept and design, however, WSB did run into some trouble with USPS regulations. Because these mailers were bound letter size, they had to have three tabs on them, which Anunson believes is a big barrier for someone to open. To combat that, WSB used the unique images on the outer to pique interest. "You'll notice that the images we chose are not very traditional for a) education or b) a business school. We're hoping that at least gains interest in the four seconds from your mailbox to your trash can," admits Anunson.
So far, that seems to be working. WSB's high-performance sales course in November was slated for its largest attendance in 18 months. These campaigns, which are mailed biannually, first rolled out in January. And because WSB bundled several courses in these mailers, it's seeing much more cross-sells and repeat business.
Despite that success, Anunson says WSB is going to test a self-mailer format versus the booklet to try and get around the USPS labeling requirements, hopefully quelling the barrier and increasing the open rate. But WSB will continue to send the most targeted and relevant communications by segmenting its customers as precisely as possible.
Will It Fly?
Sometimes, marketers can get caught in the trap of skipping the front-end work and getting right into the tactics. Big mistake, says Melissa Anunson, senior marketing specialist in the Wisconsin Business School's marketing services department. "Have the post office reps get to the front of the line," she says. "Everyone down the line from the director of marketing to the designer to the circ planner, they all have to know the regulations that are going to save them money or cost them if they don't follow it. It can't be one person's job; it has to be everyone's job ..."