Campaign hits its mark

An upscale direct mail campaign aimed at upscale prospects played a central part in the successful introduction to the Canadian market of the SC400, a luxury sports coupe by the Lexus division at Toyota Canada.Wayne Jefferey, general manager at the Japanese...

An upscale direct mail campaign aimed at upscale prospects played a central part in the successful introduction to the Canadian market of the SC400, a luxury sports coupe by the Lexus division at Toyota Canada.

Wayne Jefferey, general manager at the Japanese car maker, says the development and refinement of the company’s database was integral to the success of the campaign.

Rather than rely on cold prospecting, Lexus, in conjunction with its Toronto-based direct marketing agencies, SMW Direct and Target Mail, identified potential customers through dealership contacts, lists of auto show attendees and requests for information made to a 1-800 number printed on free-standing inserts and in newspaper and magazine advertisements.

The company was looking for an exclusive group.

Research showed 80% of Lexus sports coupe buyers would likely be male entrepreneurs or high-level executives with a median age of 45.

In addition, prospects would likely have to earn in excess of $200,000 to afford the car’s $60,000 price tag.

Once key prospects had been identified, and their profiles stored in the database, Lexus sent a teaser brochure that revealed only glimpses of the car and a soft-sell letter inviting them to call or mail a response card for further information.

Customers who responded positively were mailed a second brochure, this time presenting the sports coupe from several angles, accompanied by a letter inviting prospects to return a response card or call a 1-800 number to set up a test-drive.

Jefferey says Lexus received a 9.8% response to its first SC400 mailing last year, and dealers received four test-drive bookings each hour over a three-week period.

He says the campaign resulted in 428 sales of the SC400 model between June and December 1991, an impressive figure, especially considering the car was introduced at the tail end of the sports car buying season.

In a speech to the Canadian Direct Marketing Association this spring, Jefferey said the company’s direct marketing efforts were equally as important to the success of Lexus in the Canadian market as were the vehicles themselves. EV