Socks Mailer Gains Toehold With Prospects

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Forget images of luxury hotels, sandy beaches and planes soaring above the clouds. There's a hot new marketing icon for travel: socks.


Travel and Transport, Omaha, NE, the country's ninth-largest travel management company, is receiving its best response rate for a direct mail campaign that included a pair of white golf socks and a postcard with the tagline, "Does your travel management company knock your socks off?"


A campaign last month by Tri-Cities Regional Airport (DM News, Feb. 3) also used a pair of socks and the tagline, "We'll knock your socks off." Tri-Cities, which serves the Tennessee-Virginia area, used the sock theme to bring humor to security checks and to sell the advantages of smaller airports.


Travel and Transport's effort, which dropped Jan. 30, stresses its personalized service.


"Travel and Transport is dedicated to providing customized support to fit your company's travel needs," the postcard says. "Remember, one size does not fit all."


The 8.5-by-5.5-inch postcard and socks are enclosed in a silver Mylar envelope.


"We wanted something where the prospect could see the postcard and the socks through it, and the Mylar was more cost-effective for us," said Chantel Windeshausen, manager, marketing. "It ended up being great because people said that [the envelope] was what caught their attention."


Socks not only fit the campaign's theme, they also met the company's desire to include an unusual object rather than common mailer giveaways such as a pen or stress ball.


Jeff Cain, vice president of corporate sales, said the "postcard reminded prospects that service is still important, and the statement that every customer is unique really struck a chord."


Eighty percent of the company's clients are corporate, 15 percent are leisure and 5 percent are groups and meeting customers.


Travel and Transport sent packages Jan. 30 to 880 travel managers from an internal list of prospects. The 880 names were divided among the company's five sales managers. Cain also sent packages a week later to 55 prospects from the list. The pieces were identical except that each had the name, e-mail address and phone number of a specific sales manager or Cain. The company's URL, www.tandt.com, was included.


The company has yet to close a sale from the campaign, but has received 22 inquiries.


"In our business, people sign three-year contracts," Cain said, "and we actually had a couple of people who said, 'What a great campaign. I like what you guys do. I'm not going out to bid for a year but when I do I will definitely contact you guys.'"


Cain also received an e-mail a week after he sent the mailer stating that a prospect will include him in a bid.


"I might have been included anyway, but I think the fact that they got the sock was a reminder," he said.


Sales managers also have meetings arranged with some of the prospects that contacted the company.


The campaign was developed in-house and cost less than $3,000. The postcard was printed on the company's copy machine at a cost of 10 cents per card, and the socks cost $2.10 per pair. The Mylar envelopes were 35 cents each. Postage was 53 cents per piece.


The company plans three more lighthearted campaigns during the year that will include a gift and use a flashy envelope.


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