ADVO Shared Mail Gives Banks Alternative

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Shared mail marketer ADVO is positioning itself as a complementary medium for financial services companies engaged in solo mail and big-budget marketing efforts through its Financial Advantage program.

ADVO Financial Advantage, available since June 1997, is currently being used at the local and national level by more than a dozen banks and loan companies to target prospects in specific geographical areas, called ADVO Targeting Zones. Participants insert advertising messages into weekly shared mailings that can reach up to 60 million households.

Shared mail is cost-effective because production and postal expenses are shared among participating advertisers. Financial inserts cost just 4 cents to 6 cents per piece, according to ADVO vice president John Grogan, and include proprietary targeting analysis with overlays from data provider Claritas, Arlington, VA. The ADVO Financial Advantage can work for cross-selling of existing customers and prospecting.

ADVO, Windsor, CT, first examines the address and ZIP code portion of client customer files to identify penetration of the 3,500 households in each ATZ that have purchased specific financial products and services. The ATZs are ranked by percentage of penetration to determine which ones to blanket with inserts.

To locate potential customers, ADVO overlays data onto each ATZ from Financial Clout, a modeling tool from Claritas that indicates the propensity of consumers within a defined geographic area to purchase a financial product or service. ADVO can also gauge the penetration of households that fit the demographic profile of a client's existing customers.

Once the analysis is complete, ADVO develops a customized targeting plan and generates a color-coded map of each ATZ being considered that illustrates the size and location of four levels of customers. Clients can opt for plans that increase their core business, acquire new customers or maintain their existing business.

"[The program] allowed me to give ADVO our customer list in certain regions and they did all the slicing and dicing, which was huge. I didn't need to find a different outside direct marketing vendor,'' said a marketing executive with a large Midwest bank that is using ADVO for offers of platinum credit cards and home-equity lines of credit.

"We were able to identify very quickly the areas we wanted to throw out and hone in where we do have prospects.''

ADVO does not guarantee financial service clients category exclusivity in its envelope but will work with clients where conflicts exist.

Grogan is pleased with the progression of the program so far and expects more financial services firms will acknowledge the benefits of shared mail.

"We're moving new players into our package that have not traditionally been in there,'' he said. "We do need to overcome a lot of obstacles in terms of perception and value. It's a slow process.''

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