Nufarm, a world-leading manufacturer of crop protection products, faced an urgently needed to connect with winter wheat farmers in the American mid-west. The company previously used conventional direct mail when reaching out to prospects. While successful in terms of overall response, these traditional campaigns relied on response via Business Reply Mail (BRM), and so took too long for Nufarm’s current needs.
With only two sales representatives to cover over 1,500 farmers, and winter wheat planting season approaching, Nufarm needed to speed up its summer marketing campaign, target sales efforts on prospects most likely to buy, and tighten the connection between marketing and sales.
The Marketing Challenge
The campaign had four objectives:
Mail piece design was provided by Elle Alexander Design of Raleigh, NC. Microsite design, hosting, printing, mailing and response management was handled by Laser Image Printing & Marketing.
Nufarm used a list of 1,527 mid-western wheat farmers compiled from multiple sources.
Using the line, “Invest 5 minutes, receive $50,” Elle Alexander and Laser Image designed mail pieces and personalized web microsites, which recipients visited for information on Nufarm and how to obtain the gift card. Farmers could access their microsites by entering into their browsers personal URLs (pURLs), which were uniquely printed on each mail piece.
Farmers were offered a Nufarm hat for visiting their personalized web page, and a $50 gift card for meeting with a Nufarm sales representative. Personalization was employed throughout the design of both the mail pieces and the microsites to increase the level of engagement.
Campaign strategy relied on the planner’s belief that micro-sites would offer a faster response mechanism than BRM. Campaign planners also thought the microsites would deliver better branding and more product information than a BRM card could.
Above and beyond those expected benefits, Nufarm’s primary goal was to set pre-qualified sales appointments for their field reps. “Nufarm wanted to identify farmers interested in seed treatments, to let their sales reps allocate their time more effectively,” explains Sherry Mitchell, marketing director at Laser Image Printing & Marketing. “The Treat Seed Right campaign integrated direct mail with microsites to help them do this.”
The first of three mailings was a folded 4 x 6-inch full-color postcard bearing the headline “Great seed starts with Nufarm. Treat it right with Nufarm seed solutions,” with the farmer’s name on the outside. Inside the recipient found his pURL, a listing of several Nufarm seed treatment products, and the offer for the $50 gift card.
A second and a third mailing were sent to non-responders. These were also 4 x 6-inch full-color postcards, with wheat farming and agricultural images. The farmer’s first name was on the front and the gift card offer, Nufarm product listing and the personalized URL were on the back. To increase urgency, the second card bore the message, “[Farmer's name], your seed is waiting,” while the third told farmers that “This golden [wheat reference] won’t last.”
Farmers visiting their personalized microsites first saw a brief Flash video with Nufarm branding and images similar to those on the direct mailers. This quickly shifted to a survey page where they were asked five questions. These simple questions identified and categorized farmers in terms of their crops, use of and interest in seed treatment, and asked for contact information so a Nufarm sales representative could schedule a meeting—at which the farmer would receive the $50 gift card.
Mailings went out in three waves between July 5 and August 31, 2010. Each mailing was smaller than the one before it as responders were removed from the list. Total cost of the campaign was $6,500 plus postage and plus graphic design.
5.6 percent of the farmers receiving the mailing visited their personalized landing page. 4.5 percent answered the survey questions and asked to meet with a Nufarm sales rep. Actual sales results and order quantities are not available for this publication.
A response of 5.6% is almost triple the best-expected result of most non-personalized direct mail campaigns. The 4.5% survey response rate led to over 60 pre-qualified sales calls by NuFarm reps on the most motivated segment of the list.
Conventional direct mail lacks fast, simple response mechanisms and a means of quickly learning more about customer needs. In contrast, the Treat Seed Right campaign provided immediate information about respondents—even those who didn’t meet with a Nufarm sales rep. This provided Nufarm marketing executives with valuable information about responding and prospective customers for use in future campaigns.
“All but a few of the farmers on the list were new prospects, not Nufarm customers, so the information we collected can be used to qualify them for both immediate lead generation and other campaigns,” says Mitchell. “This is a very positive outcome, one that would be hard to achieve outside of an integrated, cross-media campaign.”
“We were pleased with the level of interaction, real-time tracking, and customization this project provided,” notes Brian Rund, director of branding and marketing services at Nufarm Americas, “We were able to show a direct link from marketing communications to sales, and demonstrated an impressive return on investment.”
For more information about Laser Image’s marketing services, please contact:
The WUNC Radio Sustainer Renewal Program
“It’s excellent. I couldn’t be happier!”
Assistant Director of Individual Giving
In 2010 development staff at WUNC Radio launched an innovative Sustainer program. They designed the Sustainer program as a way for loyal listeners to conveniently support the station by way of automatic monthly charges to their credit cards.
Listeners responded enthusiastically, so much so that the Sustainer program grew into a predictable revenue steam and the station’s single largest source of ongoing support.
But there was a problem. The Sustainer program suffered from an operational defect the developers failed to predict. Credit cards lapse when new cards are issued or numbers are changed as a result of identity theft.
This created a big challenge for the staff at WUNC Radio. How could they retain valuable supporters when they were issued new cards? The station’s response, and its decision to ask Laser Image Printing & Marketing for help, teaches us something important about how a few simple changes to a direct mail program can add up to a big jump in response.
First Efforts Marginally Successful
How to retain the support of sustaining donors was a priority for Anne Kendrick when she joined WUNC Radio in 2011 as the Assistant Director of Individual Giving.
She and the development staff tested different ways to do it. Their main solution was a simple in-house direct mail program. Unfortunately, their mailings drew a meager 3% response. Anne and the WUNC staff saw that there was lots of room for improvement in this response rate.
A Hard Look at the Mail Piece
When Anne and Regina Yeager, WUNC’s Development Director, met with Laser Image, it was obvious to everyone that the problem lay with the mail piece itself. It mailed out in a plain window envelope, identified only with the station’s return address and logo. The envelope carried a letter asking donors to please call in their new number, or return it in an enclosed return envelope.
Anne suspected many recipients discarded the piece unopened. They saw it, she thought, as just another solicitation from an organization they already supported as Sustainers.
When we sat down to work with Anne, we quickly saw two ways Laser Image could help.
First, we replaced the standard business envelope with a colorful, oversized self-mailer designed to stand out in the mail and grab attention.
To get people to open it we stated boldly on the front what was inside and included a gift.
THANK YOU for supporting WUNC! Important information about your SUSTAINER MEMBERSHIP enclosed, including a FREE gift for your participation!
The gift is a colorful decal printed on removable vinyl stock that recipients can display on their windshield or refrigerator proclaiming they are WUNC Sustainers. We calculated that these decals would further promote the Sustainer program.
The request inside the mailer takes the form of a personalized note from Regina Yeager WUNC’s Development Director to individual recipients, thanking them for past support and notifying them of the credit card issue. A reply envelope and card, coded with the date of the mailing for tracking purposes, are enclosed.
The piece also reminds recipients of the benefits they enjoy under the Sustainer program, including special events and automatic entry into all drawings held during pledge drives.
Second, we set up a streamlined procedure for processing the mailers. WUNC uploads to us a weekly list of lapsed Sustainers though a secure portal on the Laser Image website.
Laser Image merges this mailing list into the pre-designed mailer template, and sends the resulting file to our Indigo high-speed color press for on-demand, personalized printing. We then cut, fold, insert, and seal the lot and mail it out.
How is it Working?
Anne says response to has jumped from 3% to 20%. This is a seven-fold increase. She also sees the rate of inbound phone calls going up, as donors call in new card numbers, increasing response even further. “It’s excellent,” Anne says. “I couldn’t be happier.”
The new process has freed staff time as well. They labored to print, stuff and mail everything themselves. All they do now is send the weekly mailing list to Laser Image. This is “very helpful,” Anne says.
Every campaign is different, and no one can predict a 20% response to direct mail efforts across the board. In the WUNC case, we’re mailing to supporters who love the station and are likely to respond. Nevertheless, this case shows that a good mail piece can have a huge effect on the success of a campaign. It also teaches the value of collaborating with experienced direct marketing professionals to get the most from your marketing dollars.
Since 1976 WUNC has broadcast news, cultural and entertainment programming to listeners in central and eastern North Carolina and the Outer Banks. It is currently home to such popular programs as All Things Considered, Car Talk, A Prairie Home Companion, and Fresh Air. The station has offices in Chapel Hill, and a broadcast studio in the American Tobacco Historic District in Durham.
A North Carolina house wares importer hosts a close-out sale at their warehouse two times a year. In 2011 the company sought a new way to promote their fall event.
This case study is written under the condition that the name of this privately held company would be held confidential.
According to the company’s art director, their sales always pull a good response from certain neighborhoods where they have a strong following. This year they wanted to increase sales by developing new customers from other neighborhoods.
How to cost-effectively promote the fall sale to qualified prospects in new neighborhoods?
The Laser Image team recommended an Every Door Direct Mail campaign to carefully selected postal carrier routes in the target communities.
The campaign goal was to put an attractive mail piece, with a compelling offer, into the hands of people in new neighborhoods that match the demographics of importer’s established customer base, at the most reasonable cost.
Laser Image’s marketing support team worked closely with the importer to define the campaign.
New customers from the targeted neighborhoods redeemed 263 coupons at the sale, a response rate of 2.06%. This is quite acceptable for a one-time mailing carrying a generic message.
Even better, computed sales from these coupons came to an impressive $54,178. This represents an ROI
of 18.1 on the initial marketing investment of $3,000! For every dollar Laser Image’s client spent on this
campaign they sold $18.10 worth of merchandise.
It’s important to keep several things in mind when considering these results. The importer we worked for is a well-know company with a strong brand. They sell expensive, high-end products. These factors no doubt boosted their response rate and, even more so, their dollar return.
But their results prove that direct mail campaigns succeed splendidly when they are strategic, well designed, and employ well-chosen delivery methods.
Every Door Direct Mail is a new service from the US Postal Service that lets marketers deliver messages to every mail box on selected carrier routes. You could think of it as targeted leafleting by the Postal Service directly to mail boxes.
EDDM is economical. The postage rate is only 14.5 cents per piece. Since the mail pieces are delivered to each and every mail box on chosen routes, marketers also save by not having to purchase and presort mailing lists.
To qualify for EDDM rates, mail pieces must take the form of a “flat,” essentially a large
postcard between 11.5 and 15 inches long and 6-1/8 and 12 inches high.
EDDM is a powerful tool for local businesses that wish to saturate neighborhoods surrounding their locales. It also works well for companies like the subject of this case study, whose customers can be defined by where they live.
Brittini Schafer faced a training document management challenge. Laser Image solved it with a custom portal and on-demand printing service.
QlikTech, Brittini’s employer, sells a sophisticated software product to large corporations (see sidebar). Training customers to use its software is an essential part of QlikTech’s offering.
As Training Operations Manager, Brittini is responsible for supplying trainers with teaching manuals, and for tracking the usage of QlikTech’s various titles. This is not a simple task for many reasons.
Brittini plays a key and demanding role in her company. She is the supply chain manager of a dynamic inventory of vital documentation.
Imagine the frustration that would ensue if a QlikTech instructor convened a training class on a scheduled date and the right number of correct manuals had not been delivered in a timely manner. Clearly there would be serious repercussions for QlikTech’s credibility, and for Brittini herself.
How does Laser Image help her meet these challenges?
Before the advent of on-demand printing, Brittini would have had two choices, both with major downsides.
She could have managed her process via the old print-to-stock method, in which case she would make a guess about annual usages, order full quantities of all titles, store them in inventory, then pull and ship as requested.
But it’s hard to foresee the future. What if an unanticipated upgrade comes along? What if she orders too many books? Or too few? Inevitably, there would be waste. Additionally, her company would have to pay warehousing and inventory carrying costs.
Alternately she could send print files out to all her trainers and have them print as needed. But then she would lose control of the quality and brand integrity of her manuals, at the same time that she placed an unwanted burden on her trainers.
Laser Image’s print-on-demand system eliminates all these issues.
It starts with the custom Customer Portal we prepared for Brittini on our website. Through her portal Brittini manages her orders and her process.
Process and brand management too
Besides working as a digital storefront where she can update and order her inventory, her portal provides Brittini with important management tools.
Via her portal she can track usage by title, date-range, and trainer. She can check UPS tracking numbers to monitor shipments. She could, if she wished, allow trainers to order their own materials through the portal, with full reporting, and the ability to limit order sizes according to different authorizations.
In addition to all this, Brittini is reassured to know that Laser Image produces her materials in one central location, where trained operators protect the quality of her manuals and the integrity of her logo, images, colors and formats.
The benefits of on-demand printing of training documentation
QlikView solves business intelligence problems
QlikTech’s product is a powerful corporate dashboard that let’s people in large organizations produce custom apps to mine CRM and ERP databases.
Using QlikView, employees can quickly create and share apps to uncover trends and outliers in data, present the results visually, and share them within the organization.
QlikView is maintained by central IT departments and works on desktop computers and mobile devices.
QlikTech has over 25,000 customers in more than 100 countries.
Debbie Ragan had big plans and big concerns when she visited us in the Spring of 2011. Debbie’s approach to her challenges teaches us a lot about how thoughtful customers can work with their printers to achieve goals.
When Debbie sat down with Mike and Sherry Mitchell at Laser Image she’d just been hired as the director of the North Carolina Physical Therapy Association. She consulted with Mike and Sherry to seek their help planning the Association’s Fall Conference, scheduled for October in the Raleigh Convention Center.
Debbie was eager for the conference to be a big hit. Inexperienced in conference planning, she was seeking ideas and direction.
Her early call gave us a chance to help her think her project through and to explore the various things we could do for her.
A brief discussion brought her issues to the fore. She wanted to figure out the best ways to:
What was on the line…
Mike and Sherry immediately saw that Debbie had a lot on her plate and on the line.
As a new hire she was eager to impress the local and the national associations by making an impact with a major event. As a physical therapist herself, she was committed to giving her colleagues good value for their time and money. And she was under pressure from the demands and deadlines associated with pulling off a big conference. On top of all this, there was a budget to consider.
As her Laser Image representatives, Mike and Sherry’s job was to help Debbie come up with a workable plan, then to see production through so that everything was printed, mailed and delivered on deadline. From years of experience working for conference and meeting planners, all of us at Laser Image know that a conference is a date-critical event. Nothing can fall through the cracks.
The conference plan.
The first idea that came out the planning sessions was to not mail out a pre-conference program to the membership, a major printing and postage expense that had proved ineffective to promote participation.
Instead, the group decided to promote the conference with postcard mailings, and divert the savings toward use of more color in signage and documents, and in testing new technology.
They also found savings by designing the conference handouts as colorful stitched booklets, instead of the large binders used in the past.
They decided that for all printed materials Laser Image would provide graphic designs that reflected the look of the association’s new website, to help tie together the organization’s brand.
They came up with the idea to insert a 5K run into the program, as a fun way to promote the national Move Forward theme. To further support the NCPTA brand, Sherry suggested giving each runner a water bottle that Laser Image would custom-label with the association’s logo. Guest speakers would also get a branded gift, in the form of a pedometer, custom-labeled with the NCPTA logo.
For added fun, and to encourage participants to visit the associated trade show, the planners came up with a game employing QR codes. Laser Image would print a poster with a unique QR code to post at each trade show booth. Participants visiting trade show booths would scan the codes to collect a list of secret words, making them eligible to enter a drawing for prizes.
Finally, Laser Image would make logo-labeled bags for guests to carry around all their information and goodies.
How did the plan work?
“The members said everything was SO classy, the best overall conference in years! They loved the QR game and the fact everything looked so professional and polished!!! Please communicate to everyone my most heartfelt thanks and appreciation and I hope you will work with me in the future.”
This case shows the value astute clients derive when they involve their printers early in the event planning process, like Debbie did.
You help yourself a lot when you view us not just as manufacturers, but as consultants who can contribute from the beginning of the process to the end.
Collaborative up-front planning costs you nothing. It simply lets you take advantage of our experience and the lessons we’ve learned from working on hundreds and hundreds of conferences and other time-critical events.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that the printing industry changes almost daily as new technologies, paper stocks and finishing options come online, and as printers such as Laser Image employ them to bring new services to their clients. Even if you are an astute print buyer you may be unaware of all the products and services you can get from a modern, digital print shop.
So don’t be shy! Call on us early. You’ll find us ready and willing to help.
About the North Carolina Physical Therapy Association
Founded in 1951 as a Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association, the NCPTA promotes the profession in North Carolina, its members’ role in treatment of movement problems and by extension the health and abilities of the people of the state.
The association has more than 2000 members statewide who are physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy.