Mailer Has Fun Getting Down to Business

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Looking to get noticed and mold its message in a fun way, Mercari Technologies may have found the perfect item to include with its first strategic direct mail campaign: Play-Doh.


The campaign theme is that Mercari's merchandising software can help retailers build an "intelligent shelf" within its store. A graphic of a blue shelf with glasses is the main character of the campaign. Included in the piece, which shipped in a white box with a personalized sticker to make it look like a gift, are an informational card on Mercari and a can of Play-Doh.


"The picture that we use of the intelligent shelf looks as if it is made out of clay," said Stacey Dash, director of marketing and communication at Mercari Technologies, Washington. "So we gave them the Play-Doh, allowing them to create their own intelligent shelf. It's a fun way to get the point across that we can help them create an intelligent shelf in their stores."


The business-to-business campaign mailed last week to 1,500 CEOs and vice presidents of merchandising at mid-sized and large retailers in the grocery, convenience store, specialty retailer and mass-market industries as well as at the manufacturers that service those retailers. All were prospects the company has had a hard time reaching.


"We chose that number because we wanted this to be a very targeted mailing," Dash said. "The people targeted with this mailing are a group of people that we really wanted to get our name in front of."


Mercari has received one response so far. Dash said it came from a "good target" that it had been having trouble contacting.


Mercari's suite of products allows retailers to optimize their shelves by collaborating in real time with manufacturers on what products they should be placing on the shelves, where in the store they should be placing them and when.


The cost for using the software is determined by a process called value-based pricing.


"A number of things are taken into consideration," Dash said, "including size of the company and what type of value they will get from using it."


The informational card sent with the mailing lists Mercari's services, including forecasting, evaluating, collaborating and development of data. Two calls-to-action -- a Web address and a toll-free number -- are provided. Mercari's sales staff will follow up with respondents.


Names acquired will be put into Mercari's database and will receive future mailings. Mercari is introducing a newsletter at the end of the month, but Dash said she was unsure whether campaign respondents would receive it.


Dash would not disclose the cost of the campaign. But most of the cost was for postage, since all pieces shipped First-Class.


Sightline Marketing, Washington, a full-service advertising agency, helped create the campaign.


The direct mail campaign is the second portion of Mercari's first major advertising effort, which got under way a few months ago when it began a print campaign in several print and trade publications. Among the publications were Fortune, Mass Market Retailers, Consumer Goods Technology and RIS News.


Dash plans other direct mail efforts, most likely in June and September. She said both would have the same theme but would be entirely different pieces from the one used in the current campaign.


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