Mail Campaign Gives Ticket Sales a Bounce

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Hoping to bring back fans after last years strike-shortened season, the NBA's Washington Wizards have kicked off a direct mail campaign promoting season-ticket packages to corporate executives in the Washington area.

"With the basketball strike and the shortened season last year and all of the negative press surrounding that, they felt that they were going to need to generate some more interest in the team this year," said Ann O'Malley, account supervisor at Crosby Marketing Communications, Annapolis, MD, the marketing agency that designed the mail piece.

More than 10,000 pieces went out in two drops to CEOs, vice presidents of sales and other high-level managers at companies that met certain requirements, including number of employees and revenue.

"Between the time the Wizards came to us and when we needed to get something in the mail, there was a short period of time for us to get something out and get a response to it," said Tom DiJulio, vice president and creative director at Crosby. "So we wanted to come up with something that would get noticed and stick out amongst all the other mail these people receive."

To achieve that, Crosby designed the outer envelope to look and feel like a basketball. The piece, which stresses the effectiveness season tickets can have for a business looking to impress potential clients, promotes the VIP Plan and MVP Plan. Inside is a personalized letter from a sales representative at Washington Sports Entertainment, the organization that owns the Wizards, along with a description of each plan, and fax and phone numbers to call for more information. Recipients receive a follow-up call from the representative who wrote the letter.

As an incentive, respondents who schedule a meeting with a sales representative receive a free basketball and four complimentary tickets to a game - whether or not they buy a season-ticket plan.

Results were only starting to come in last week so no numbers were available, but DiJulio said the mailing was "blowing away their [Wizards'] expectations."

Ann Nicolaides, senior director of marketing for Washington Sports Entertainment, said the campaign had already paid for itself.

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