The Minnesota Office of Tourism, St. Paul, built on the success of last year's direct mail campaign to promote the state as a vacation destination by adding a third piece this year focusing on summer fun.
Last year's effort involved more TV, radio and outdoor ads while this year the direct mail portion more than doubled, said vice president/management supervisor Charley Howe of Colle+McVoy, Minneapolis, the marketing firm that created the campaign.
The agency's 2003 effort dropped April 17-23. Pieces contained business reply cards that recipients could use to request an information kit on summer activities as well as fishing and golf, which were featured last year. “How many vacation days do you have left?” was the question asked on the inside of the three-panel pieces.
“With the summer fun kit, we're using the assets of the Twin Cities area to draw our neighboring state consumers as well as motivate rural residents of Minnesota to come to the cities for a vacation,” Howe said. “The trend in travel is car travel, primarily, and since 80 percent of the people who travel to Minnesota do so by car, we're in a great position to reap the benefits of that.”
The summer fun piece used a photo of two bicyclists on the cover because “biking is becoming more of an emerging activity, and everyone can do it,” he said. The inside contains photos of a roller coaster and a Twin Cities-area park.
About 225,000 summer fun pieces were sent targeting 65,000 names from the Office of Tourism database, 40,000 Travel Holiday magazine subscribers in the Upper Midwest; 70,000 outdoor enthusiasts; and 50,000 AAA Home & Away magazine subscribers. It performed the best of the three pieces, drawing an 18.7 percent response.
“Summer fun has, by far, surpassed our goal, which was 25,000,” he said.
The cover of this year's golf piece contained a photo of a golf course under the copy, “Things to remember: new putting grip. Things to forget: everything else.”
About 92,000 pieces were mailed using four lists: Links Magazine (15,000), active outdoor enthusiasts (25,000), Golf Magazine (20,000) and the remainder from the Office of Tourism database. Overall, about 80 percent of recipients lived in the Dakotas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska with Minnesota residents accounting for the rest.
The response rate is 4.12 percent. That's up from 3.84 percent last year when 150,000 golf pieces were sent.
The cover of the fishing piece contains a photo of an elderly man fishing on a lake while the inside photo shows a child fishing off a dock. “It's not a fishing license. It's a permission slip to forget about everything else,” reads the copy on the cover above the photo of the man.
About 200,000 fishing pieces were mailed, double last year's number. Recipients included 70,000 from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources database, 75,000 subscribers to three fishing publications, 30,000 active outdoor enthusiasts who expressed interest in fishing and the rest from the Office of Tourism database. The response rate is 7.5 percent, down from 15.52 percent last year.
“The photo of the kid shows that fishing can be a leisure activity for all ages and that anyone can fish,” Howe said. “Fishing is connected to the existing Minnesota resort experience, and the state is known for its fishing. The cover shot shows that if you're a serious fisherman, we can cater to you. And with the Minnesota focus, a large part of that targeted people in the Twin Cities in order to motivate urban residents to break away and go drop a line in the water.
“Golf is an emerging tourism product for Minnesota, where fishing is a very mature product. Who would ever think of Minnesota for golf? So it will be a tougher pull. With golf we're trying to bring new dollars into the state and it's a bit more of an acquisition strategy, where fishing is a bit more of a retention strategy.”
Overall, 517,000 pieces were sent, up from 250,000 last year. Combined response for all three pieces was 11.8 percent through the end of May, compared with 8.51 percent for the golf and fishing pieces last year.