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Mailer Huffs and Puffs to Success

A direct mail campaign that began at the end of 2002 targeting high net worth individuals is still generating responses.

McDonald Financial Group, a subsidiary of KeyCorp, Cleveland, invested about $24 per piece, which included postage and the cost of two incentives, to reach about 3,000 prospects each in Fort Myers, FL; Naples, FL; Birmingham, MI; Salt Lake City and Toledo, OH.

“McDonald Financial Group has identified them as priority growth markets with the potential for growth and new business,” said Alison Shurell, assistant vice president, marketing, at KeyCorp. “These individuals are who we want to reach.

“[The cost per piece was] very reasonable because of the potential ROI. With an average client moving most of their assets over, it only takes a few clients to cover the cost of the project.”

McDonald offered investing, banking, insurance, trust and portfolio management. Many of those targeted were business owners or executives. All had an annual household income of $150,000 or more.

“But the more important element was they needed $500,000-plus of investible assets — assets that could be brought under our management,” Shurell said.

McDonald sent a box via the U.S. Postal Service measuring 6 by 17 by 3 inches and weighing about 1.2 pounds with “The best financial plans can survive anything” printed on it. The Tale of the Three Investors was presented in chapters when the box was opened. The first two chapters dealt with weakness in investment strategies while the third touted “a rock-solid plan” put together by McDonald that let Investor Number 3 live “happily ever after.”

Another part of the box had three compartments. One was filled with straw, another with twigs and the third with a brick. Above the compartments was the heading: “What are you using to build your financial plan?”

“On its simplest level, it's the story of the three pigs,” said Melanie Gerik, account director at Epsilon, the direct marketing agency for KeyBank. “We all know what happened to the pigs who built their houses out of straw and twigs.”

Karen Dobbs, creative director at Epsilon, said the campaign sought to sum up “different investing styles. The straw, the brick and the twigs tie into the copy.”

The campaign aimed partly to create awareness for McDonald Financial, which was a new brand at the end of last year formed from a combination of KeyCorp's McDonald Investments and private banking channel.

“[Along with] creating awareness, [the] second goal was to help our salespeople fill their pipeline with qualified leads,” Shurell said. “When you're asking a person to move $500,000 of investible assets, it's a very personal decision. The idea was to get our name in front of them and prime them for a call from an adviser.

“The sales cycle with these types of clients can be six to 18 months to get assets under management, [and this is] still generating interest from potential clients.”

The box also touted two incentives: a four-week subscription to The Wall Street Journal for those who called an adviser at a toll-free number, and a free night at a Ritz Carlton Hotel anywhere in the United States for those who met with an adviser and completed a BluePrint Financial Profile by Jan. 31.

The effort marked the first time McDonald Financial targeted this specific group.

“We didn't have any benchmarks,” Shurell said. “We felt it was a good idea, [and] we're pleased with the results. The responses we've received, if those turn into assets under management, will more than cover [the cost]. We have a few handfuls of prospects in the pipeline.”

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