Grizzard Aims to Flex Muscles Beyond Nonprofits

Grizzard Performance Group is wrapping up the pre-holiday portion of a direct mail campaign to improve the agency's recognition among business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketers.

“When people think Grizzard, they think nonprofits,” said Michael King, vice president of Grizzard Performance Group, Atlanta, a division of Grizzard that handles BTC and BTB accounts. “Our roots in [BTB and BTC] go back just as far back as our work with nonprofits.”

Grizzard's nonprofit clients include The American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and the Humane Society. Some of its larger BTC and BTB clients include Coca Cola, Olan Mills and Unum Provident, an insurance company.

The campaign aims to convince marketers that Grizzard is a “strong and aggressive” company able to execute campaigns that generate sales of all types, not just efforts to solicit donations. It is using a muscle-car theme to promote this image.

Grizzard Performance Group began the mailings in late September to mid-size and large businesses in retail, telecommunications, financial services, healthcare and 10 other vertical segments. Several hundred pieces will be sent in the pre-holiday portion, with another few hundred going out after the holidays for a total of 500 pieces. King said this BTB campaign, which is the first major marketing push for the group, targets CEOs and vice presidents of marketing from an in-house prospect list.

The piece is mailed in a large brown box with a white-and-red sticker that reads: “Fasten your seat belts.” Inside the box is a white-and-red box asking recipients to “Open'er up for a competitive lift.”

The second box holds a 5-inch model of a red, die-cast 1965 Cobra convertible. There's also a package containing a cover letter and informational brochure on the group's services and benefits. The muscle-car theme is carried throughout the literature, with headings such as “ROI through RPM,” “Small cars with big engines command attention,” and “Take a test drive.”

“The whole platform is based around our being aggressive, innovative and competitive,” King said, “just like the Cobra convertible was when it was introduced. Most of the targets are going to be an older group of people who will recognize the car and make the connection.”

The mail piece was created in-house, with each one costing about $60.

It has three response mechanisms: a business reply card, a Web site and a toll-free number.

King said Grizzard Peformance Group already has set up about a dozen meetings resulting from response to the piece. The long-term goal is to convert at least 12 of the 500 recipients into customers, he said. The average sales cycle for bringing clients aboard is three to six months.

The campaign was supposed to begin Sept. 14 but was pushed back two weeks because of the Sept. 11 attacks. King said it took a wait-and-see approach to gauge the best time to initiate the mailing.

“Like a lot of companies, we were sitting on this promotion that we had invested a lot in, and we were waiting to send it out,” he said. “You have a certain window of time, and you want to get these things out in the mail before the holidays. At the time we didn't know what to do.”

So it began calling recipients to measure their interest in receiving business mail.

“No one was sure if the events had stifled everything,” King said, “but what we found was that as long as the package was relevant, companies said they would not mind if we delivered it to them.”

The one change in the execution came about three weeks ago when Grizzard Performance Group put its name on the outer package in response to anthrax concerns.

“Our plan was to keep the identity of the sender a secret,” he said. “But as a result of the incidents with the mail we changed that around and put our name on the outside.”

Though events altered the company's plans to build mystery about the mailing, events increased interest in the special offer for respondents: a free copy of a survey it conducted on the integration of direct mail and e-mail.

“With a lot of attention now being focused on e-mail because of anthrax, people are interested to see what the survey says,” King said.

There have been no complaints or reports of people hesitant to open the package. The only difference King said he found is one that all mailers will most likely encounter.

“It seems as if all types of mail [are] taking longer to get through the mailroom and into the hands of the targets,” he said. “It's not just the multi-dimensional pieces anymore.”

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