Premium Networks Gets Artistic With Direct Mail Campaign

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Online promotions firm Premium Networks is hoping the graphic design work of eye-candy artist Winston Smith will drive response rates in four upcoming direct mail campaigns.

For the first of the Smith-themed postcard drops, Premium will combine its proprietary list of prospects with about 22,000 names from a list owned by Adweek magazine.

About 30,000 online ad agencies and corporations that advertise on the Internet will be targeted with the first batch of 4-inch-by-6-inch glossy postcards. It is the first direct mail campaign Premium has run. The company expects to reach 120,000 prospects with the four drops.

The goal is to promote Premium's media placement services. The company sells advertising space across its network of interest-centric Web sites.

Smith's artwork -- which has appeared this year on the covers of The New Yorker and Red Herring magazines -- is being used to give prospects something they might hold on to for visual or artistic value. The company also is offering Smith posters as an incentive to drive response. "The idea was to put out a card that had some additional value other than the message on it," said Ken Margolis, president of Premium Networks, San Francisco. "We want advertisers to say, 'This is interesting' and hang it up."

The front of the postcard for the first drop depicts a person hanging from a gigantic hook and asks the question, "Does placing ads leave you hanging?"

"Let Premium Network get you off the hook" reads the copy on the back.

Pre-launch testing has not been done, said Margolis.

"We'll test along the way. We'll be testing different lists with each batch so that by the third mailing, we'll have an opportunity to repeat what has worked or try something new," Margolis said.

Postcards will be coded so list effectiveness can be measured.

When respondents call to receive the posters or to inquire about Premium's services, representatives will ask for the code on the card received, Margolis said.

He would not disclose the per-postcard or total costs of the campaign, which was printed and distributed by marketing firm Adworks. "The cost is not really a key factor; it was relatively inexpensive," he said.

Margolis said Premium will use the responses to build its own database, but would not disclose the size of the list nor the company's average customer acquisition cost. "The market's too volatile to pinpoint that accurately," he said.

However, the average order size of Premium's customers is $50,000. "This goes up to hundreds of thousands of dollars," he said.

"Average order sizes have grown. We've seen quite a bit of business from repeat customers" since renaming the company in January 1999. Premium Networks was the name that replaced Ken Margolis Associates.

Wall Street's recent beating of Internet advertising giants Engage and 24/7 Media has not affected Premium's marketing initiatives, but cash flow has had an impact.

"We're in a much different situation than companies that are ... funded [by venture capital] or publicly traded. We're small enough that we can adjust to different demands," Margolis said of the company's 15-member staff.

However, a limited marketing budget restricts the size of its self-promoting endeavors.

"We would have increased the number of lists we used if we had more money. There are a lot of good resources out there," he said.

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