Campaign Shows a Little Empathy

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Hoping to show marketing directors that it understands the problems they face in a time of tight budgets, integrated marketing services firm Harpell next week will target 5,000 of these professionals with the second drop of its largest and most costly campaign.


The campaign, which plugs all of Harpell's marketing capabilities and services, targets marketing directors at midsize hi-tech companies as well as business-to-business services companies.


The first drop of 7,500 pieces was mailed in the second week of April and has received a 46 percent response rate. Some of those responses have already turned into business for Harpell. The company will mail the final drop of 10,000 pieces during the first week of June.


The center of the integrated campaign is a direct mail piece designed like an old-fashioned songbook with a barbershop quartet on the front. The headline of the piece is also the name of an original song Harpell created called, "Let's All Blame the Marketing Director." Inside are the words to the song.


Karen Carney, marketing director at Harpell, reported that the cost of the campaign was $50,000 to $60,000. Harpell mailed the piece in a transparent envelope to help it stand out from the rest of the mail.


She said the key to targeting this audience is to empathize with them.


"Our targets are under a lot of pressure to drive results and bring money through the door," she said. "We wanted to get in their heads and behind their eyeballs with this piece and create something that they would have an immediate emotional reaction to."


The songbook is accompanied by a cover letter that outlines how Harpell can help them get the most out of their advertising efforts in the current economy. They are asked either to call a toll-free number or to visit a Web site where they can download a version of the song as well as a free white paper titled "Turning the Soft Economy to Your Advantage." Respondents also can set up a free brainstorming session with the Harpell team and can sign up for e-zines and newsletter updates.


Aside from the obvious goal of generating strong leads, Carney said Harpell wants marketers who currently are not looking for an ad agency to visit the Web site and download the white paper and song to keep Harpell in their minds.


"We know not everybody is going to be in need of an ad agency at this time," she said. "But this campaign has a long shelf life, and it gives us a way to help stay in their minds and on their desks for a while."


Carney said early feedback includes a recipient who framed the piece's cover and put it on his wall and another recipient who took the songbook home and played it for his wife on the piano. Other companies have requested additional copies of the songbook to bring to their national sales meetings.


Harpell designed the piece inhouse in order to showcase its capabilities. The piece is being sent to some of the companies in its database, but the majority of targets are prospects. The names came from a combination of magazine subscription lists and lists acquired from brokers. All respondents are being added to the Harpell database.


Print ads in the publications Fast Company and Marketing Computer, along with radio spots, are running in conjunction with the direct mail campaign.


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