Printer's Mail Campaign Gives Prospects a 'Break'

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The Premier Company, one of the oldest printers in the Southwest, used its direct mail experience in a business-to-business campaign tempting prospects with food to get them to respond.

The Houston company began the "Take a Break" campaign last fall to 258 prequalified prospects. It netted 20 new accounts -- which can range in value from the thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands -- in the six months after launch, and Premier is reloading the effort with a new list of prospects.

In the past, the printer used highlighter pens, stickers and other knickknacks as premiums in its mail campaigns. This time, it used more appetizing premiums: popcorn, cookies, brownies and the like.

"We decided to get right down to the warm and fuzzy feelings of snacks," Premier president Martha Justice said. "Everybody loves to take a break and have a snack."

Justice is the daughter of the late L.U. "Luke" Kaiser, who founded the company in 1925. He is a 1985 inductee into the Direct Marketing Association's Hall of Fame, which credits him with being an early adopter of computerized lists and helping build the acceptance of DM practices in the Southwest.

Prospects in the campaign each received four mail pieces, staggered about three weeks apart. The mailers consisted of a brown package with a cover label bearing a design that echoed the campaign's theme, such as: "Can't catch a break?" Inside, recipients found a snack along with a brochure. Each wave of the campaign showcased one aspect of Premier's capabilities, with the first focusing on printing, the second on direct mail, the third on database services and the fourth on fulfillment.

The Quest Business Agency, Houston, designed the campaign, but Premier printed, assembled and mailed the packages itself to show prospects what it could do, Justice said. Mail volume was high enough that Premier could send the pieces as presorted Standard mail, she said.

The list, developed with leads from Premier and Quest, featured current customers along with prospects. The printer thought it was important to update customers with its latest marketing and remind them of services of which they might be unaware.

Sales agents followed up with telephone calls. Previously, agents making cold calls to prospects had a hard time getting through, Justice said. This time, they often were greeted warmly. One prospect thanked an agent for sending "dinner," while another offered to make a purchase if the agent sent more brownies. A large bag was sent, and a deal was closed, Justice said.

"When you cold call, they don't know who you are," she said. "When you've sent them something like this, they've had a chance to see what you are about."

Premier began work this week on a follow-up mail campaign to new prospects. It will feature the same packages, brochures and design work but different snacks.

Scott Hovanyetz covers telemarketing, production and printing and direct response TV marketing for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting


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