Oversized Cards Tout Downsized Costs for Creative Staff

Sean Bisceglia can't take the credit for the concept behind his company's latest direct marketing effort.

“I got an oversized card in the mail once, and it got my attention,” said Bisceglia, CEO of CPRi, Chicago. “It was harder to throw out, not only because of its size but because of its quality. When we were ready to roll out our current campaign, I said 'let's get something that's oversized and laminated.'”

Three 12-by-9 cards were mailed by CPRi, a marketing staffing company that manages the marketing and creative departments for three Fortune 50 companies, including 32 marketing professionals working at AT&T in Morristown, NJ. CPRi employees handle functions such as payroll and benefits for the corporations.

The target: 1,600 C-level executives at 300 companies in the Fortune 500. Vice presidents, procurement directors and marketing directors also were recipients at some of the companies.

“It's like outsourcing, but the people stay on site,” Bisceglia said. “They stay with their badges in their cubes doing the same work with the same security clearances.”

Considerable thought went into the targeting.

“We looked at different verticals that would be appropriate,” he said. “Consumer package goods were eliminated since marketing is all they do. But we included insurance, finance and travel sectors — including airlines — as well as manufacturing.”

Bisceglia said Fortune 500 companies can save up to 35 percent of the cost of managing their marketing and creative departments.

“We bring efficiencies,” he said. “These organizations are not run as efficiently as they could be. In certain instances, we are brought in to reduce headcount, and it can be a big part of what we do. These are internal agencies. [The companies] want them on site, but it's difficult to get an ROI out of them.

“The pieces mention cutting SG&A costs — which the target audience knows is sales, general and administrative — which makes this a financial play. It's a significant part of the cost of running a company. Through our research we've found out that executives ask, 'Can I reduce SG&A and keep the staff?'”

Recipients got the pieces April 23, May 7 and May 21. Everything was mailed First-Class.

Despite a sales cycle that typically is six months, the $5,600 investment is expected to generate significant new business.

“This isn't like selling a $2,000 gadget,” Bisceglia said. “The minimum revenue involved is $800,000 to $4 million per year. That's the overall payroll, and it includes our margin. Our average margin is between 6 and 11 percent, so it more than pays for itself if we get one lead converted to new business.”

Eight leads are in the pipeline, with two proposals that are close to producing new business. Both deals are expected to close in the fourth quarter.

The three pieces used the same headline: “We call it Insourcing. The new blueprint for corporate marketing departments.”

“You pass the employment, HR, and management accountability to CPRi,” appears below the headline on the first piece. “We'll get more out of the operation, minimize turnover, find and keep top talent, and establish best practices.” It notes that CPRi will handle payroll, insurance, benefits, hiring and firing.

“The creative concept behind the first piece was to educate regarding what for many may be a new concept and generate leads,” Bisceglia said. “It was not just about building the brand. It was meant to soften the targets so that we could approach them about getting into a discussion.”

Copy in the second and third mailers was more direct: “Eliminate the HR headaches and control department churn,” was the lead-in for one paragraph.

The back for all three mailings included images of 10 or 11 workers with different copy for each piece: “Keep the marketing staff. Lose the SG&A.”; “Keep the marketing group. Lose the FTE's. (full-time employees)”; and “Keep your eye on the ball. Lose the management headaches.”

“The 'lose the management headaches' line deals with the fact that you're taking your eye off the core focus of your company by having these departments as a distraction,” he said. “Creative people are a different breed to manage — different than managing an engineer, for example. Sometimes they don't fit into the corporation. An average creative group has three different managers in a two-year period. They get passed around.”

All pieces cite www.cpri.com as a source for more information along with the name and phone number of CPRI's chief operating officer. In addition to handling calls, he is responsible for calling non-respondents in a further effort to generate leads.

Expenses included $1,500 for creative, while printing and lamination totaled $2,900 and postage cost $1,200. Symmetri Marketing Group, Chicago, created the campaign for CPRi.

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