BTB Campaign Is Very Hush-Hush

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As if marketing a service to financial advisers that requires their clients to have a net worth of $1 million isn't tough enough, BDirect Capital had to develop a campaign for the program without mentioning details of the service or its name.

The financial services firm targets the private equity service, which includes venture capital investments and leveraged buyouts, at brokers and investment advisers who, in turn, offer it to their customers. Hamstrung by Securities and Exchange Commission regulations that prohibit it from revealing details until financial advisers are accepted into BDirect's Access Alliance program, the firm had to make brokers curious enough to request more information without spilling anything about the service.

The result features a cover letter and a poster with the image of an escalator delivering people to the summit of what appears to be an unconquerable mountain. The print ads use the same escalator and mountain image as the poster.

The tagline under the image reads, "Now you can provide your accredited clients access to the upper reaches of private equity." With each unfolding of the poster, the statement "Private equity just became less private," is revealed.

The cover letter tells recipients that private equity can help them grow their businesses and serve their clients. It then provides statistics on the importance and benefits of private equity.

"We want them to look at us as an organization that they should know more about," said Paul Sanabria, co-founder of BDirect, Boston. "There is an introduction and education challenge that we face here, and I believe the image we are using helps to convey that we can help them provide their clients with access to a place that wasn't accessible before."

The Boston Group is the advertising agency that worked with BDirect on the campaign. The package will go out to 50,000 financial advisers next week. A print campaign began last week in Barron's, Financial Advisor, Business Week Elite and other financial publications. Costing more than $100,000 but less than $400,000, it is BDirect's largest marketing effort. BDirect also will mail 10,000 pieces that include only the cover letter and a brochure.

Both mailings will be sent in a personalized, 8.5-inch-by-11-inch envelope designed to look like a weathered airmail package delivered from Nepal. The outside of the envelope is stamped "fragile" and includes Nepal postage stamps. To add to the authenticity, the package is made to look as if it were wrapped in twine.

Both invite recipients to apply for a free membership with BDirect. If they meet the qualifications to become members, BDirect then will disclose the aspects and details of the service to them, along with its name. Recipients can respond either by calling a toll-free number, visiting or mailing back a short questionnaire in the business reply envelope provided in the package.

BDirect will conduct tests by mailing a follow-up postcard to half of the recipients in each group.


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