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Investment Telemarketing Campaign Provides Call, and Phone

All outbound telemarketers place phone calls in their sales efforts, but most don't send phones to their prospects.

Yet that was the strategy in a campaign by a Toronto-based hedge fund looking to lure investment brokers on the city's Bay Street, the heart of Canada's stock market. Balsam Hedge Funds' “Answer Our Call” campaign sent 30 brokers promotional packages containing a disposable cell phone.

After their receipt of the package, the brokers got a call from a Balsam representative. If they missed the call, Balsam's phone number was programmed into the disposable cell phone so they could call back at their leisure.

Within 15 days of the launch, all 30 prospects responded. The promotional packages brought $1 million in sales to Balsam.

Only a few prospects closed deals with Balsam, but as the sales figures show, those targeted represented high net worth prospects. They were sophisticated brokers with large portfolios, names that would be recognizable on Bay Street and Wall Street, said Laurence Metrick, president of Toronto advertising firm The Metrick System, which designed the campaign.

“They were not hard to find,” he said. “From word of mouth and Balsam's contacts, there were a number of prime people we wanted to speak to.”

Metrick explored several media for the campaign, including bus shelter and billboard ads, print direct response and direct mail. However, given the sophisticated nature of the prospect lists, the advertising firm decided a high-end mail package would work best.

Metrick produced packages for 100 prospects and has 70 unsent packages in his office.

“We didn't have to talk to that many people,” he said. “Originally, we were going to talk to 100 people but we had success with just 30.”

The mailer consisted of a Nokia throw-away phone with less than an hour of talk time — at $50 Canadian, the least-expensive programmable phone available — packaged in a metal box with a paper wrap labeled, “Answer Our Call.”

Metrick had the packages delivered by courier, not FedEx, so he would know the exact time each package arrived and could alert Balsam to place a phone call immediately.

If the prospect didn't take the call, text on the cell phone LCD urged the recipient to press “two” on the phone's keypad to dial Balsam direct.

An e-mail blast in advance of the packages went out Feb. 5. The e-mail promised a “special delivery package” would arrive within 10 days, though the packages actually arrived within five days, Metrick said.

Despite the seemingly immediate nature of the package, Metrick said he hoped the cell-phone campaign would continue to attract sales to Balsam six months to a year from now. He predicted the cell phones would stay on prospect desks for a long time.

“It almost becomes a trophy,” he said.

Metrick credited Balsam president/CEO John O'Donohue with closing the sales and attaining the high sales figures. O'Donohue made and took all calls in the cell-phone campaign personally and made follow-up presentations to the prospects.

Balsam still plans to contact the remaining 70 prospects with the packages, though there are no set dates to ship them out, Metrick said.

Despite the success with which the campaign attracted prospect attention, Metrick said that he likely would not use the cell-phone tactic with future clients.

“Generally, our job is to come up with a unique voice for every client,” he said. “That's why they pay us.”

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