DM Humor Draws Laughs, Response

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NEW YORK--To direct marketing professionals who decry the use of humor in business-to-business campaigns, Stu Heinecke replies with a cartoon that generated a 100 percent response rate. Ticor Title Insurance sent out 1,300 greeting cards with Heinecke's personalized "Fly on the Wall" cartoon that led to 1,300 appointments for its sales force.


Heinecke has indulged his dual passions for marketing and cartooning with his comic strip, which is syndicated on the Web and used in marketing applications for his company, Stu Heinecke Creative Services, Seattle. In addition to the Ticor example, personalized cartoons can be used as an incentive to an offer (get a free cartoon with purchase) in direct mail or e-mail. An e-mailer sends a cartoon Web page electronically that can be re-personalized and sent along to additional recipients.


Licensed, established humor like the Three Stooges or other comic strips are another direction for BTB marketers, said Heinecke and Russell Kern in their DMDNY session "Humor in Creativity: A Winning Combination" on June 2. Kern, president of Kern Direct Marketing, said humor works because it captures your attention, relieves the tension of selling and enables customers to see situations in a new way. By making people laugh, marketers demonstrate understanding, concern and empathy for their customers.


But Kern warned marketers not to use humor to overshadow the offer or to compensate for a poor offer. Humor is intended to get the customer's attention, the merchandising of the offer must do the rest.

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