Vaughn Promotes Use of Videotapes in Direct Mail

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Videotape duplicator Vaughn Communications has opened an office to consolidate and expand the use of VHS videotapes as a direct mail medium.

Vaughn, Minneapolis, also duplicates CD-ROMs and diskettes for use in direct marketing campaigns, but promoting VHS will be the primary focus of the company's new Baltimore office.

"The market has exploded for the use of video,'' said Doug Olzenak, vice president of Vaughn's communications division. "CD and digital is the future and where the excitement is. Where performance can be improved is through the use of the VHS videotape concept."

Direct mail pieces containing VHS tapes numbered in the millions in 1997 but represented a fraction of all direct mail. With costs of replication much less than they once were, tapes can be mailed for less than 30 cents, less than the cost of First-Class mail, Olzenak said.

Information gleaned from clients showed that a VHS tape will elicit response rates two to three times greater than straight flat mail. Judging the effectiveness of direct mail in steps, a tape was more likely to be opened, produce action by the consumer and lead to a sale or further inquiry, Olzenak said.

VHS works better than CD-ROMs or floppy disks because it is established and understood, he said.

"It's not intimidating so it keeps the consumer's focus on the product, Olzenak said.

Auto makers were the first to embrace VHS tapes in direct mail. Vaughn has had success with grocery store clients and makers of recreational vehicles such as personal water craft. Olzenak said tapes help differentiate products from competing companies offering financial services or mortgages, for example. They also drive retail traffic, he said.

Vaughn will use its Baltimore office to further educate clients on the benefits of VHS and other media and give them a central platform for handling direct marketing campaigns.

Vaughn will continue existing relationships with list brokers, managers and other direct marketing experts for now and may eventually formalize those relationships or search for other strategic partners.

"Our goal is to marry our clients with people that have good experience,'' Olzenak said.

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