PSEG Grabs Customers With Fistful of Dollars Imagery

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When starting a direct mail campaign last September, PSEG Energy Technologies in New Jersey wanted a concept that its business customers could get a grip on. It succeeded on all levels with an effort that continued to generate responses through June.

Its agency, Creative Marketing Alliance Inc., Princeton Junction, NJ, devised a 9-by-6-inch postcard with five holes allowing the recipient's fingers to fit through the piece.

"Don't let powerful energy savings slip through your fingers ... Upgrade to energy-efficient lighting and profit from Lighting Rewards!" appeared across the bottom of the front while the headline on the back read, "Save up to $30 per lighting fixture per year!"

With fingers placed through the holes, recipients could turn the piece over and view the image of $50 bills rolled up in rubber bands as if it were in the palm of their hand.

"This allowed them to see the money that can be found in their building by using more modern technology," said Jeffrey E. Barnhart, president/CEO of Creative Marketing Alliance.

"Since we were producing something in mass quantity, we knew the production costs would be outrageous if we tried to do something elaborate," he said. "The whole idea was based on getting your hands around more money for your business. And that led to coming up with an idea that would have staying power -- putting their hand through the holes."

Monthly drops of 15,000 pieces took place from September through March, except for December, for a total of 90,000. The campaign continued through a change in ownership in 2003 as PSEG Energy Technologies became Public Energy Solutions.

The target audience consisted of commercial, industrial, retail and institutional building owners, building management companies and facility managers throughout northern and central New Jersey at facilities of 10,000 to 50,000 square feet.

Copy on the back of the piece touted the Lighting Rewards upgrade that included savings of up to 60 percent and installation and warranty.

"These lighting products can reduce a facility's lighting energy costs by up to 60 percent, saving an average of $30 per lighting fixture per year for over a decade, without any loss in light quality," Barnhart said. "The resulting die-cut finger holes allowed the recipient to literally grab the up to 60 percent energy cost savings offer, and the creative tied into the main benefit."

The response rate was just below 4 percent, considered overwhelming because the client was described as being happy with anything above 2 percent.

Responses were defined as any inquiry made as a result of receiving the piece. Recipients were told to call or e-mail for more information. The conversion rate, from inquiries to orders, was placed at a minimum of 50 percent.

Direct mail was chosen as the most economical vehicle to reach the largest percentage of the target audience because "regional, business and trade publications are few and generally narrowly focused geographically, making advertising an ineffective solution," Barnhart said.

Name acquisition costs were estimated at 20 cents per name. Other per-piece expenses amounted to 5 cents on the creative side and 4.5 cents for postage.


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