Odd-Shaped Mailer Brings in Dough For Krispy Kreme

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Great Circle Family Foods, a Krispy Kreme franchiser in Los Angeles, received an 8.5 percent response rate from the first promotion to use Customized MarketMail, a postal classification that lets direct marketers mail nonrectangular pieces.

Krispy Kreme worked with ShipShapes, Park Forest, IL, a division of Imageworks Manufacturing and a producer of a direct mail product that meets the criteria for CMM, to create a high-gloss, nonrectangular mailer picturing a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Great Circle sent the direct mail piece to more than 10,000 prospective customers living within three miles of three stores in Orange County. It dropped Aug. 11 -- one day after the CMM classification took effect -- with a coupon offering "a second dozen Original Glazed doughnuts for a dime" when they bought a dozen doughnuts.

The piece also listed the addresses and phone numbers of the Orange County stores where the coupon was valid. The promotion expired Sept. 30. Each mail piece included a code that was collected by the cashier and that let the company track the promotion.

Response was higher for Great Circle than in its past direct mail promotions.

"When we send a typical direct mail piece to an unsolicited party, we generally get a response rate of 2 to 3 percent," said Lisa Ducore, vice president of marketing for Great Circle Family Foods. "For a mailing to prospective Krispy Kreme customers, this was an extremely successful campaign. The unique look and shape of this mailing definitely caught the attention of prospective customers. Additionally, the premium look of ShipShapes represented our brand very nicely."

ShipShapes mailers are printed on a plastic engineered to accept ink while providing a finish with a high gloss. They are designed to flex without creasing and retain their shape after coming out of the mailbox. Costs vary based on the quantity and mailing list distribution, but generally range from $1 to $3 per item including postage and drop-ship costs.

Ducore said that the company is doing its budgeting for next year now, and may conduct another campaign with ShipShapes.

Prior to the CMM classification, pieces one-quarter-inch thick or less could not be nonrectangular, irregularly shaped or have holes and voids unless they were in a package, carton or envelope. CMM allows such pieces as long as they weigh up to 3.3 ounces and measure up to 12 inches high by 15 inches wide and three-quarters of an inch thick.

Prices are based on Standard Regular and Nonprofit Mail basic tier rates plus a residual shape surcharge. Postage rates for these mail pieces are 57.4 cents for Regular Standard Mail and 46 cents for Nonprofit Standard Mail.

The U.S. Postal Service has been getting a lot of interest from the mailing community about CMM.

"The customers are pulling us into conversations, asking salespeople to come by and give them a briefing on what this new thing is and how can they do it," said George Hurst, manager, product management-flats, USPS. "It's more of a pull strategy than a push."

Customers are concerned about cost, "but what customers need to think about is what your overall cost of acquiring a customer is," he said. "If you can acquire a customer for under 60 cents, then maybe that helps you think through this piece."

ShipShapes is not the only vendor offering CMM. The USPS is creating a list of CMM printers and providers, which will be available on the postal service's CMM Web site at www.usps.com/customizedmarketmail in about a month.

"We've put a call out for who has the capability of doing colorful, irregularly shaped die cuts so we can go ahead and promote them on the Web site," Hurst said. "While ShipShapes was the very first to produce this type of mail piece, there are many other folks that can do it as well."

Another company offering mailers that conform to CMM specifications is American Spirit Graphics Corp., Minneapolis. Its pieces are printed on paper stock, not plastic. As a result, they can be 20 percent to 40 percent less expensive than the ShipShapes product, according to Jim Anderson, national sales manager at American Spirit Graphics.

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