RCN Seeks Advantage With Direct Mail Campaign

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RCN Corp. is preparing to start a direct mail campaign to extol the advantages of its "one-stop shopping" bundled telecommunications and cable services package in major U.S. metropolitan markets.


The company, which brings phone, Internet and cable television service to its subscribers, will offer combined-service packages in its "Advantage You" campaign, set to begin July 1. The campaign stresses that RCN can be the sole provider of all of a consumer's communication needs.


RCN, Princeton, NJ, plans to drop 750,000 to 1.5 million mail pieces to consumers in its existing markets as well as to those who live in homes that are continually being added to its fiber-optic network. The company's services are available in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and parts of New York, along with central New Jersey and the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania.


For this campaign, RCN is using what one company official calls a "post-chure," a mix of a postcard and a brochure. The inside of the multiple-page mailer contains in-depth information like a brochure, but the outside of the mailer outlines the offer like a postcard.


The offers on the mailers will vary somewhat from market to market to reflect local competition.


The black-and-red mailers, designed by Laughlin/Constable Inc., all bear the copy "advantage you." The copy on one of the mailers reads, "The telecom genie has granted you three wishes," with the top of the mailer bearing the message "Cable TV, Phone, Internet" and finishing with the campaignwide theme, "advantage you."


As a prelude to the campaign, RCN is running billboard ads as well as bus shelter and transit posters in its target markets. The company plans to follow up mailers with postcards, hand-delivered hanging cards to the targeted consumers' doorsteps and newspaper inserts with direct response elements.


"The mail becomes the core of the message," said Marc Miller, vice president of corporate marketing at RCN. " 'Reaching people where they live' is how I term it."


The mailers are designed to stress the benefits of having all communication needs provided by one source, Miller said. RCN decided to choose this theme for the campaign after conducting extensive market research earlier this year.


The company is following up on its previous "Revolution" campaign. The earlier campaign focused on offering consumers an alternative to local communications providers, which held local monopolies on service until recently.


The research showed that consumers liked getting all their services from a single company and that the message of offering alternatives to traditional service providers resonated well, Miller said. Both themes have been incorporated into this campaign.


Miller said he had witnessed direct marketing success as head of marketing at the Chicago-area bundled communications provider 21st Century Telecom, which RCN bought a year ago. He brought that experience to RCN after the merger.


He said the "Advantage You" campaign would remain in use for as long as it remains successful.


"I don't see any end in sight," Miller said. "We will continue to evolve the campaign and continue to speak to customers."


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