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3M Campaign Pushes Post-it Notes

SAN FRANCISCO–A company best known for making industrial and consumer adhesives is touting one of its more popular products as a way to get direct response messages to stick with their recipients.

Most marketers don't immediately link the direct response concept and a company like Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co., St. Paul, MN, which is promoting Post-it Notes — the sticky squares of canary yellow note paper that are nearly ubiquitous in many office spaces — as highly effective direct media.

3M plans a direct mail campaign of its own about Post-its that will play up the ability of the notes to lift response rates. The company, which plans to begin testing the campaign Nov. 1, will send mailings — featuring Post-its, of course — to direct marketing agencies and distributors of promotional products like cups and mugs. 3M executives declined to specify the budget for the campaign, all major aspects of which will be handled internally. Regardless, it's a significant effort on behalf of a product that was originally envisioned in the early 1980s as a book mark.

Standing in front of 3M's booth at last week's DMA fall show, Don Branch, program manager for Post-it direct response products, espoused the notes on the basis of the three R's of marketing: recognition, readership and response. And he has a strategy on how direct mailers can best use the notes.

“The meat of the message should be on the note,” Branch said, adding that ideally any note a customer receives in his mailbox will carry the key points of a pitch and be interesting enough to get the customer to read the mailing. Then I've gotten recognition. I've gotten readership. And, for the response portion, the customer tears off the note, throws away the mailing and he's gotten everything he needs to respond.”

As for Post-its' effect on response rates, Branch has at least one example to back his claims. InterCall Inc., a Chicago company that helps clients plan and schedule phone meetings, wanted to increase traffic at its Web site and decided to send out a 15,000-piece mailing to new corporate customers. To a simple two-color card, the company attached a white Post-it that talked up the InterCall's offerings, gave its Web site address and sported the headline, “Stick me on your computer and check our Web site exclusives.” The result, Branch said, was 9,000 hits on the InterCall site over a two-week measurement period.

“This was the only outbound [communication] they did,” he said. “There were no other media. There were no other search engines where they were listed.”

And what Post-its do for direct mailers, 3M would like to see them do for online marketers as well. The company's Post-it Software Notes for Internet Designers, a program designed to attach a virtual note to Web sites, lets a person perusing a site click on an electronic Post-it and drag it from the browser. A plug-in that actually downloads onto the user's computer, the Post-it and its message remain intact on the desktop even after the browser is shut down. Users can trash the note by clicking on a pull-down menu.

Companies selling over the Internet can add the notes as automatically generated receipts that their customers can drag from their Web sites until their bought goods arrive, or the Post-it can contain a hot link to return to the page automatically, said Andy Feld, marketing manager at 3M's stationery and office supplies division.

“The whole point is you can drag important content off of your browser and onto the desktop, and that content can live off of the browser,” he said.

Gourmet Coffee Club, which sells coffee, tea, cocoa and related products through an online store at www.gourmetcoffeeclub.com, integrated the notes into its site, and 3M announced new agreements this month to provide Post-it Software Notes to several other Web sites.

3M has a policy against revealing sales figures on its Post-it products. In 1997, the company brought in total revenue of $15.1 billion.

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