Sprint Uses Paper Cell Phone to Connect With Business Prospects

A Sprint Business campaign to market its cellular phone solutions to manufacturing and wholesale distributors used a three-dimensional mail piece in combination with telemarketing.

The mail piece was a package that included a paper replica of the new Sprint phone, the Handspring Treo 300. Some 3,680 packages were mailed in the campaign that began in August.

The cardboard phone is a copy of the Handspring Treo 300 and came equipped with a digital sound chip that emitted a ringing sound when the phone's lid was opened. Along with the replica phone, the package contained an eight-panel, double-gate-fold brochure. The package offered a free Handspring Treo 300 PCS Vision Phone for those who agreed to a sales presentation about Sprint's integrated communications solutions.

Sprint Business used telemarketing calls by its sales people to contact the top executives on its prospect list directly, and it used the mail package to reach lower-level executives and midlevel managers.

The three-dimensional piece, produced by Structural Graphics, Essex, CT, aimed to penetrate the barriers around decision makers that can keep mailers from reaching their target, said John Falconer, vice president/management supervisor for relationship marketing at Temerlin McClain, the agency that developed the creative concept for the campaign.

“To get their attention, the best way would be a direct mail piece,” Falconer said, “something that their administrator, their gatekeeper, wouldn't throw away.”

The campaign sought to entice the targeted executives into making an appointment for a sales presentation by a Sprint Business representative. Falconer declined to reveal results of the campaign but said Sprint Business planned to use a three-dimensional piece again to market to different audiences in a campaign next year.

The pieces cost $20 to $25 for production, not including mailing costs, Falconer said. However, a single contract could reap hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in sales for Sprint Business, so one completed deal might cover the entire campaign.

Cell phones are among the few products ideal for replication in paper for use in a marketing campaign, said Michael Maguire, president of Structural Graphics. The objects are small but easily fit a sound module, and the piece can be easily designed to activate the sound chip when the lid of the cell phone is moved.

The paper cell phone actually acts as a speaker box, amplifying the sound emitted by the chip, Maguire said. Recipients have been known to share them with friends and spread the number of potential leads that the mail package touches.

Structural Graphics hand-made the replicas at its plant in Connecticut. The company also operates two hand-assembly plants in Mexico.

According to the Sprint Business Web site, the wholesale distribution industry is one of nine industries for which Sprint Business provides solutions. Sprint Business offers wholesale distributors voice services, wireless connectivity, contact center solutions and solutions for improving network flexibility.

Structural Graphics has done cell phone replicas in the past, Maguire said. The firm also has used replicas to market Webcams.

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