Does Sending the Same Toy Twice Work in B2B Mailing?

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Despite a response rate of greater than 60 percent on its last mail effort using Xyzyx's Image3D program, The Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau might switch strategies with its next business-to-business drop set for October.


Image3D's most distinctive feature is its use of Fischer-Price Inc.'s View-Master three-dimensional image toys. Xyzyx makes 3-D image reels for the toys that illustrate a client's key selling points and packages the reels with company-branded View-Masters in branded 4-inch-by-6-inch-by-6-inch boxes. The packages normally cost more than $16 to produce, with up to an additional $3.50 for mailing.


The conference and visitors bureau used the Image3D program in a March mailing to 400 travel agencies for one of its events promoting Beverly Hills hotels and restaurants. About 300 of the agencies receiving the five-piece mailing were past attendees of the event, while the rest were prospects.


The organization claims to have attracted more than 240 of those recipients to the event with the mailing. But though the bureau was "delighted" with the results, said Jeb Baird, director of the organization, it still is debating the merits of using the toys in a follow-up campaign.


"On one hand, I could see why we'd want to use the View-Masters again with a follow-up because the toys can become part of your brand in a good way," he said. "On the other hand, you always want to keep your marketing message fresh in the eyes of your audience. So, it matters how you look at it.


"The thing that makes this approach so attractive, though, is what we have heard back from some recipients." Baird said. "People keep these branded View-Masters around their desks for a very long time. And they pass it around the office a lot. So not only are they direct marketing tools, but also branding tools as well."


Richard Dubnow, president/CEO at Xyzyx, Tualatin, OR, said many of the campaigns his company promotes have follow-up aspects, so Xyzyx doesn't have to replace clients constantly.


"A lot of ad agencies have included copy that has encouraged their audience to hold onto the View-Masters, warning them that there would be follow-up reels coming with new promotions," he said. "Some of our clients have used this approach and have mailed a series of seven or more reels and incorporate the mailings with their sales reps."


About 300 companies, including Anheuser-Busch, NBC and several other multinational firms, have used the Image3D program in BTB efforts since the product launched in 1998. Just two of those companies have used the program for consumer marketing.


"Because of the unit price, it's best-suited for business-to-business efforts using a qualified list of prospects," Dubnow said. "You just don't mail these out to anybody and hope to get a response that will produce a good return on investment. It has to be targeted."


Xyzyx also has used its Image3D program to drum up its own business customers, mailing an average of five pieces a week for the past two months. Sales representatives are calling the targeted firms in the days after the drops. The company recently stopped sending postcards ahead of the packages.


"It's still too early to give any significant results, but we feel like our approach is becoming more direct by cutting out the postcards," Dubnow said. "We want them to hold and feel the product right away because the View-Master gives people a warm feeling. Nearly everyone identifies with them from their days as a child."


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