Cost-conscious 6 x 9 Package for Intuit Beats
4 Contenders for ‘Control Status’ — Earning Millions
Intuit Corporation, one of the world’s largest software marketers, needed a new control for its Track-It™ product.
Taking creative competitiveness to a new level, Intuit devised a “copywriter’s bake-off” wherein three copywriters would compete for the account on the basis of concept development. Chris Marlow was one of the copywriters.
Thus her strategy needed to include conceptual strategy for Intuit’s product, as well as “competitive strategy” against her rivals. In assessing the competition, Chris made an educated guess as to how her rivals might execute and present their concepts, and then planned an execution and presentation likely to blow theirs out of the water.
In addition, she looked at Intuit’s control not only from a creative standpoint, but from a strategic standpoint as well. While many copywriters might make the mistake of trying to be “too creative,” Chris analyzed what made the current control successful, and integrated those elements into one of her concepts.
The strategy worked and Chris won the job. Halfway through the creation of the new package, however, Chris learned that once again, she was pitted against the control as well as three other creative teams. In other words, her package would test against four other packages.
In testing, Chris’ 6 x 9 package won against a #10 format, a magalog format, the 6 x 9 control, and a DVD Case format. And while another package won for highest response, Chris’ more inexpensive package won on the basis of highest ROI.
Years later Intuit revealed that Chris’ package had been so successful that the concept was copied for other products, leading to millions in sales.
Blockbuster Web Seminar Campaign for
Nervous Accounting Software Provider
Exceeds Expectations by 300%!
Walker Software, an IBM partner and provider of financial software to the world’s largest companies, wanted to test the viability of holding seminars over the Web.
“Webinars” (Web seminars), were still a fairly new mode of group communication for enterprise-level financial executives. A sophisticated and compelling approach was needed.
Our team crafted an invitation-style #10 self-mailer, which included a one-page letter and small brochure with odd folds. We also sent an email letter (in both HTML and text formats), to select financial executives from rented email lists. The offer was a free book to the first 50 registrants, A Guide to Crafting Breakthrough Strategy, published by Harvard Business School Press.
The response rate goal was set at 25 people per seminar. When the responses rolled in at 75 to 80 people consistently for two seminars, which rotated monthly, everyone was ecstatic. The end result: This campaign brought a 3.75% response rate before telemarketing follow-up!
12% Response from a Group
That HATES Advertising!
Who hates advertising more than anyone?
Engineers — that’s who. Their analytical minds rule and anything “sell” makes their eyes narrow. That’s the core market for a division of Tektronix, which manufactures and sells test and measurement solutions.
Tektronix had nothing new to present — no new product, no new features. Still they needed to market. It was decided to promote a peripheral test and measurement product — the Tektronix probe. The thinking was that these engineers use an oscilloscope, which necessitates the use of a probe. And thus the offer was born: A valuable free book on the “ABCs of Probes.”
The classic #10 package was a study in understatement. The OE was plain, the letter short and straightforward, and a small brochure highlighted the contents of the free publication. The goal was to sell without appearing to sell.
Being direct marketers, however, we did conduct a confirming three-way test. One package had an outer envelope with a teaser, the letter, and a brochure. Another had a plain outer, the letter, but no brochure. And the package we thought would pull the most had a plain outer envelope, the letter, and the brochure.
The response was phenomenal from this notoriously difficult-to-motivate market. The winning package pulled 12%! And our expectations were confirmed. The plain envelope far outpulled the envelope with teaser, and the packages with the brochure outpulled the one without.
Overwhelming Response Astonishes Tax Accountant
and Forces Change of Venue for Seminar
THREE TIMES IN A ROW
RealTax, a tax accounting firm located in Irvine, California, wanted to expand its base of associate tax accountants, and eventually franchise itself to become the “ReMax” of tax accounting. This was to be accomplished by attracting tax accountants to free seminars throughout Southern California.
Being a small business, RealTax’s budget was small as well. Chris Marlow (the sales writer), teamed up with Terry Rosson (the art director), and a plan for format was established. We would use a simple #10 RealTax outer envelope with teaser, a two-page letter with Fax-Back Form, and a three panel brochure (also with a Fax-Back Form, so it could be used independently in a self-mailer test).
Because the client was very conservative in his approach to advertising, we had to be conservative in our copy and design. Never in our history was it so critical to devise a seminar title that would pull them in.
Many hours of work went into crafting a title that promised our target market competitive advantage as well as profit potential: “Discover How to Combine Real Estate Taxation with Recent Trends to Create Success Strategies for Your Clients.”
That did the trick!
Three hundred and fifty responses came in — more bodies than the reserved rooms would hold at two Radisson Hotels in the Los Angeles area, and a Marriott Hotel in Irvine. With a mailing of about 3,500 this was a 10% response — twice the amount anticipated. The client, Tax Accountant Joe Mandelbaum, was astonished at the response and had to quickly arrange for expanded accommodations for each seminar.
Online Lead-Gen Email Campaign Gets Clickthrough Rate
of 21.64 with 85% Completing the Form
In the year 2000 there was a lot of testing going on in the online DM arena. Our group (a small L.A.-based agency that specialized in online DM, with Chris Marlow as sales writer) was asked by Peoplelink to mine the Internet for qualified leads.
A successful dot-commer, PeopleLink provides eCommunity solutions (Chat Rooms, Message Boards, Discussion Groups, Instant Messaging, and Online Events), to the enterprise level business, with solutions starting at $10,000 per month.
We placed numerous text ads in online newsletters, testing many copy approaches. We also sent an email letter to select online lists. A very strong offer that spoke directly to the audience’s primary pain — high CRM costs — brought excellent results.
The free White Paper, showing how to gain customers while slashing customer service costs by 25%, plus lots of hard-hitting statistics that proved our point, offered the “meat” potential clients were looking for. Not only did this campaign generate a very healthy return of 967 qualified leads, but it also revealed a hidden market that was intensely interested in the Peoplelink solution.
At a 12.80% response rate, Call Centers became a new target market. All this for a cost per lead of $65 — 86% less than the $461 per lead which had been budgeted!
Qualcomm Sweeps Gets a 7% Response
Qualcomm wanted to announce its newest technology, the Qualcomm pdQ™smartphone, to its current wireless customers, as well as to prospects who had a high interest in technology. Targeting Orange County and its home base of San Diego, a low cost 6 x 9 mailing went out with an 11 x 14 letter with perfed reply, two buck slips, and a BRE.
The sweeps consisted of a grand prize “dream vacation” (or $5,000 cash), and first and second place prizes of the Qualcomm pdQ smartphone and the Qualcomm Q™ phone.
The Sweeps hit a 7% response rate with entries still coming in. The client was thrilled and said the mailing was “working incredibly well.”
One-page Letter Gets 15% Response from
Hard-to-Reach Dentists —
and They Had to Supply the Stamp!
Today’s HMOs and Preferred Provider Insurances may be a pain for the consumer, but they’re even more of a pain for dentists, whose income is directly tied to these bureaucratic systems. Practice Leadership Center, which teaches dentists how to create practices that do not rely on HMOs and PPOs, planned a seminar on “How You Can Win the HMO War.”
It was sales writer Chris Marlow’s job to fill the seats. Using a true-to-life example of how one dentist freed himself from the bondage of HMOs, by using the knowledge gained from Practice Leadership Seminars, a simple one-page letter with RSVP went out to 500 dentists in the Seattle area.
Our response, at 15%, was exceptional — especially since the doctors had to use their own stamp on the RSVP Card. For this mailing, there were 25 phone responses and 50 responses via RSVP. This simple letter rolled out many times, always producing excellent response rates.
Overall, about 10% of respondents would use the RSVP Card rather than call. PLC principal Royce Iverson believes that dentists get a lot of invitations, and thus their psychology of accepting or declining makes the use of an RSVP very powerful. This bears out in the fact that many dentists would return the RSVP Card, using their own stamp, simply to say “no”!
Booth Visitors Skyrocket from 350 to
More Than 1,300 at National Trade Show
Although Fortune 500 lumber company Willamette Industries is always considered an “anchor tenant” at the industry’s largest trade show, the National Association of Homebuilder’s International Builders’ show, the Marketing department had been unhappy with booth traffic.
To ramp up booth visits, Marketing Director Heather Crunchie and her creative team, Deb Cornick and Chris Marlow, decided to send out a low-cost “pre-show” postcard, and sink most of the marketing budget into freebies and prizes that could be obtained at the booth.
Freebies included carpenter pencils, lumber-related historic postcards, and fortune cookies, some of which contained prizes. The prizes were Willamette Industries cotton hats, cotton sports shirt, or a Willamette Classic Collection Music CDs of music from the ’70s or ’80s.
The tactic worked extremely well, increasing booth traffic 271% over the previous year. Interest was so high that many booth visitors also brought the mailer, even though it did not say to do so!
Oversized Mailer Brings 10.56% Response
— and an International ECHO Award!
Oregon technology company Tektronix, Inc., had been getting less than 1% from its self-mailers promoting its color printers, so they came to Rosen/Brown Direct in Portland, Oregon, to create a more successful mailing program.
After doing some research, we discovered that responses were low partly because the mailings weren’t getting past the mailrooms of the large corporations that Tektronix was targeting.
We decided to go oversized (9 x 12), and 4-color, to impart a feeling of importance.
We conducted a message test between two concepts as well. The main selling point was that having a color printer would allow you to make superior presentations. Package #1 took a fear-based approach, and showed a well-dressed professional behind bars.
The headline was WANTED — FOR KILLING A GREAT IDEA WITH A BORING PRESENTATION. A full-color transparency was enclosed in this package, as well as Package #2.
Package #2 took a positive approach. The visual showed a professional “climbing the ladder of success.” The headline was LADDER ENCLOSED. A unique involvement device was enclosed, a die-cut “corporate ladder the prospect could climb with die-cut paper dolls. Each week that they used color in their presentations, they could climb one rung; making it to the top would mean more efficient work, which could “earn them a promotion.”
Package #1 outperformed Package #2, pulling a 10.56% lead-gen response, earning Chris Marlow the industry’s most prestigious award, the International ECHO Award, for copywriting. And although the Ladder package lost out to the Wanted package, it did very well itself, at a more than respectable 6.73% response!
11 x 12 Postcard for Canon Computer
Brings a 12% Response
Canon Computer Systems needed to introduce the object.station, a new workstation, to its existing base of NeXTSTEP customers, but it didn’t have much of a budget. This forced a self-mailer format, which is not known for exceedingly high response rates.
Our group decided to work especially hard on the offer, since that would be our best chance for bringing higher than average numbers. Since CDs were all the rage at the time, and software companies had been having success with CD offers, our group looked for “just the right” CD.
A combination of hard work and luck turned up a very attractive CD made especially for the NeXTSTEP operating system! The Fatted Calf contained over 350 utilities, applications, and games. The value was $30.
This offer, as well as attention to some important emotional motivators, brought success to Chris Marlow and the other members of team on this project. Not only did this piece bring a 12% response, but it generated more than $900,000 in sales, for a remarkable ROI of 5,455%!
Bold Approach to Copy and Design Brings 12.8%
Order Generation for Computer Electronics Supplier
Buffalo Products, Inc, a small computer electronics supplier, needed to gain Value Added Resellers (VARs) in order to sell more of its 486 CPUs to the marketplace.
However, the universe for VARs was small when compared to the universe of computer electronics suppliers, so competition was stiff. In addition, VARs were fairly loyal to the manufacturers they already represented. Our challenge was to get VARs to order a Buffalo “486 Powerkit” of CPUs, and subsequent sales would naturally follow.
In studying competitor mail, it became obvious that VARs were hit relentlessly with the schlockiest kind of advertising available: screaming headlines, bad photos and drawing, horrible text blocks. And too many offers to wade though.
So our creative team decided on a colorful, oversized 6 x 9 envelope, with a VARs favorite subject pictured on the front: other VARs! The headline, VAR AMAZES CLIENTS, created the curiosity to get them inside, where they discover an unusual format for the brochure. Instead of a traditional one-piece folded brochure, we created a three-piece “stacked card” system, which allowed us to present the prospect with not one lead-in headline, but three!
With this system, the VAR was able to quickly find whatever hard data he or she was interested in. The offer was also strong: “Buy One and Get One FREE,” and a 33% discount for large orders. The results stunned sales writer Chris Marlow, as well as the rest of the team. Response for order generation was 12.8% response, increasing sales by 754% over Buffalo’s usual 1% to 1.5% response rates!
Simple 2-Color Postcard Gets 4.8%
for Marketing Software Supplier
The power of “knowing your prospect” worked wonders for Basic Computer Systems of Brea, California, because the prospect was “us.”
Basic Computer was a marketer of information management software for direct marketing agencies. Being direct marketers with agency experience, the creative team, which included Chris Marlow as sales writer, instinctively knew the “pains” of the audience.
This was fortunate, because the budget was extremely tight. So tight in fact, that we could only afford a two-color 6 x 11 postcard for getting leads. For some unknown reason, many marketers put their main selling message on the back of the postcard.
But that doesn’t make sense, because it’s the front of the postcard that recipients see first. So we started the selling message on the front of the postcard, where we placed five ”agency” cartoon characters with balloons that spoke of common agency frustrations, e.g., Oh no…we missed another deadline…We blew the estimate again…Why are we losing money on this client? And so on.
The offer was a free demo disk, video, and brochure, showing how the product worked. This simple little postcard brought a 4.8% response, which proves the value of really knowing your audience!
• Electronic direct mail program slashes cost-per-lead for Microsoft Great Plains. In 2001 Microsoft wanted to explore the benefits of online DM at a time when the Internet was proving to be fertile ground for lead-generation for small and medium-size businesses. Relying on the expertise of L.A.-based Lassoo, Inc., an agency that specialized in Internet marketing, and Lassoo’s sales writer Chris Marlow, Microsoft moved forward with an online program targeting four vertical markets.
Using email letters, online newsletter text ads, and White Papers created by Chris Marlow, to support Lassoo’s sophisticated “optimization program” and overall strategy, Microsoft’s foray into online DM was a smashing success. At cost per qualified lead of just $45, Microsoft had found a way to maintain lead quality while significantly lowering the cost of lead acquisition.
• A 9.6% response rate for software orders. Now Software, maker of personal information management software programs, needed to get upgrade orders from existing Now Contact and Now-Up-To-Date customers.
Two separate packages, mailed four weeks apart, brought a 9.6% upgrade conversion. Colorful 6 x 9 classic packages were loaded with benefits, with the first upgrade package bearing a 4-page letter. Beating the response rate for both of these packages is a subsequent mailing with a new creative that pulled a 9.7% order response on its own, and yet another that pulled 11%.
• A 5% response for security software. Leading security software supplier Network Associates wanted highly qualified leads. Working with a team put together by Russell Kern of The Kern Organization, one of the West Coast’s leading direct response agencies, Chris Marlow wrote copy for a #10 classic package that focused on selling the offer, which was an appealing knock-off of the Leatherman tool. Recipients answered nine questions and provided Network Associates with the large number of highly qualified prospects they were seeking.
Northwest Natural Gas wanted to move prospects from using their electric water heater to using gas. The offer was frightfully weak: buy a new gas water heater and we’ll give you good financing.
Not having much to work with on this promotion, we decided to focus on creative. The idea to simulate a print ad on the front of the outer envelope lead to a vertical 6 x 9 format, with a picture of a gunslinger and the headline, “Take Your Savings and Get Out of Town.” The western theme followed throughout, with the sell focusing on the ultimate savings of converting to natural gas. The package brought a 6.3% response — a 294% improvement over in-house efforts that averaged 1.6%!
• 3-way price test for a new software program gets 7.6% in its best test cell. New software company Extensis had created a supplemental application to the popular PageMaker program. With limited marketing funds, their first mailing had to work. The strategy was to discover the best price point, then roll out to the winner. A very compelling offer — a free clip art CD worth $99, and price discounts — revealed that the best price for the product was not $89, or $69, but $49.
• A 7.5% response rate for Novell. The right premiums to the right audience at the right time brought success to this classic package. Networking software provider, Novell, wanted a high response rate of qualified leads from a DM package that also promoted their branding. Balancing the softness of a “branded” look and feel with a supercharged offer — not one premium but two — led to a “pretty” package the client could feel good about, and a response rate Chris Marlow and the creative team could feel proud of.
• 3-Dimensional promotion for cellular equipment supplier gets 17% lead-gen response. ADC Kentrox needed to reach cellular telephone network managers and directors throughout the U.S., who could afford a system that starts at $100,000. To ensure an audience with the top prospects in ADC Kentrox’ universe, our team decided to create a 3-dimensional promotion.
To illustrate how much money the prospect’s company could save in one year, with an ADC Kentrox wireless system, we created a suitcase filled with $1.2 million in “Kentrox Dollars.” This made the number $1.2 million into something tangible and real. The promotion earned a 17% response rate and an International ECHO Award for Chris Marlow and others on the team.
• Electronic direct mail campaign brings Infotrieve over 1,200 new members.
Infotrieve offers research support to individual, academic, and corporate researchers in the scientific, technical, and medical markets. Their product is online access to research materials.
As part of a team that specialized in online marketing, Chris Marlow wrote copy for an email letter that was sent to 450,000 targeted email prospects, as well as text ads that were placed in targeted online newsletters. The offer was a free report valued at $30, customized to the scientific, technical, or medical markets. Prospects downloaded their free report from a landing page that captured their data. The campaign signed up over 1,200 new members at a cost of about $60 per member. Conversion from trial memberships to regular memberships was approximately 40% within these highly verticalized audiences.
• Other samples in Chris Marlow’s portfolio…a 2% registration in response to an email campaign for PalmSource 2001, “the year’s hottest conference for developers”…a 2.9% response rate from a self-mailer seeking leads for BlueVolt, a software solution for the electrical trade…a 1.3% response for an email campaign for enterprise-level financial software provider Systems Union… 4.5% and 5% response rates respectively for Tektronix classic packages promoting color printers.
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