Since replacing its irregularly scheduled direct mail efforts with a well-planned postcard campaign, marketing and creative services firm Sullivan Creative has seen response rates rise, picked up a major new client and gained valuable media attention.
Business-to-business direct mail efforts by small companies often are done on a when-the-need-arises basis. Such was the case for Sullivan Creative, Newton, MA, which used to mail postcards to clients and prospects only when it purchased a new list, planned to attend a show or for some other special reason.
In fall 2003, however, the company switched to a regular three-month schedule for its direct mail. It also introduced one graphic element that would be similar on all of the postcards, a three-month calendar. The most recent campaign mailed the last week of March. The next is planned for the end of June.
The strategy “forces us to be more organized,” said Carol Fusaro, Sullivan's vice president/account manager.
The back and front of the postcards feature images with a seasonal theme. Accompanying copy usually ties into this theme. The October-to-December 2004 effort featured trees in fall colors and pumpkins. The copy read: “Turn over a new leaf! Turn to Sullivan Creative to help make your marketing efforts more vibrant. Our marketing strategies and creative services will get you results.”
The postcards also mention Sullivan's e-newsletter, “Sullivan Solutions: Secrets of Successful Marketing.”
The cards typically mail to 500-600 names per quarter. One-fourth of the mailing goes to clients. The remaining names are prospects taken from trade show lists or rented and/or purchased mailing lists.
In addition to generating awareness of Sullivan Creative and driving recipients to its site, sullivancreative.com, another goal of the postcard campaigns is to gain subscribers to Sullivan's newsletter. The newsletter was introduced three years ago and has about 900 subscribers, including marketing and communications managers and directors. It is distributed every six weeks and generally focuses on one topic relevant to marketing. Recent articles, which are written by Sullivan's staff, have covered viral marketing and search engine optimization.
“We wanted to drive people to the Web site, but if they signed up for the newsletter, we knew we'd hooked them in on a regular basis,” Fusaro said.
The postcards are the main vehicle to drive newsletter subscriptions. After the second calendar series mailed, Sullivan saw a 0.5 percent spike in the number of subscribers. Of these, 98 percent were prospects, Fusaro said.
A local magazine, New England Printer and Publisher, saw one of the postcards, checked out Sullivan's newsletter and contacted the company, asking whether the magazine could reprint a few articles. Also, a prospective client saw the articles in New England Printer and Publisher and was impressed.
“That sealed the deal for us in terms of getting a corporate identity project” worth $20,000, Fusaro said.
Sullivan's sales force has reported seeing the postcard on prospective clients' walls.
“We do get a lot of comments on how colorful they are,” Fusaro said. “What the postcards, combined with the newsletter, have done is broaden our exposure.”