Hitachi Mailers Tout 3-D Online Tour, National Showings

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Hitachi's biggest challenge in marketing its new Freedom Storage Lighting 9900 V Series, a data storage device costing $250,000 to $2 million, is that only two currently exist. The solution was a two-part direct mail campaign to drive people to a 3-D online tour and trade shows where the product would be on display.


"Even if people wanted to come on site and inspect it up close, that still might be challenging since there are only two of them right now," said Jordan Erickson, account executive of Viewpoint, the company that provided the technology for the 3-D tour. "So the 3-D tour becomes even more of a necessity in this instance. This allows Hitachi to tell a complete product story that would not be possible in a two-dimensional environment."


More than 4,000 unique views have been made at the site, though Erickson could not say how many resulted from the direct mail effort.


"It is an expensive and major investment," said Adam Mangum, a spokesperson at Candesa, the interactive services agency running the online part of the campaign for Hitachi. "A virtual tour like this that can take someone right into the product without actually being there provides a unique opportunity for both Hitachi and the potential buyers."


Visitors were not required to complete a lengthy registration process.


"We did not ask for a lot of in-depth information at the site," said Annette McConnell, management supervisor at New York-based Doremus, the agency handling the offline portion of the campaign for Hitachi. "They were asked for their titles and how closely they were involved with the purchasing process. We just wanted to start the qualifying process."


The first direct mail piece went the last week of April to 2,300 recipients. It was distributed evenly among potential customers, media and analysts. The list was comprised primarily of attendees to the Networld+Interop 2002 show in Las Vegas, which is where Hitachi introduced the Freedom Storage Lighting 9900 on May 7.


The mailer contained little text, intended instead to serve as a teaser. It came in the form of a ticket jacket with a VIP pass to the product launch event. The call to action was to attend the event or visit the site for more information and to take the 3-D tour.


The mailing generated a 15 percent response rate, translating to 351 people attending the product debut, McConnell said.


In early May, Hitachi began an 18,000-piece direct mail campaign targeting senior IT executives at medium-size to large companies and enterprises. The goal was to drive attendance to six national stops the product made on a tour this summer. The mailings were split evenly between prospects and current customers. Hitachi compiled the list internally for both mailings.


The theme of that mailing was "making data storage easy again." The piece was sent in a standard-size envelope and contained a brochure and letter.


The brochure had an image of a child looking inside a box. The brochure read: "Remember when storage was simple? Now it's simple again." The rest of the brochure contained information on the product.


The letter gave details on the national tour of the product through June. McConnell said the attendance for each of the first three shows generated from the mailing was 5 percent to 7 percent. Numbers for the final three shows, the last of which was held June 23, were unavailable.


The mailer asked people to visit the site to register for the show nearest them. There they were asked to provide information and could view the 3-D tour as well.


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