Client makes headlines in Financial Post piece

Client: The Financial PostProduct: Newspaper subscriptionsAgency: Camp, Odell & Roper Direct MarketingPutting the client in the news was the strategy behind a recent direct mail campaign by The Financial Post.Toronto-based Camp, Odell & Roper Direct Marketing created a mock front page...

Client: The Financial Post

Product: Newspaper


Agency: Camp, Odell & Roper Direct Marketing

Putting the client in the news was the strategy behind a recent direct mail campaign by The Financial Post.

Toronto-based Camp, Odell & Roper Direct Marketing created a mock front page in which the prospect’s name appeared in the headline and throughout the body copy, in which various subscription options were outlined.


The piece was packaged in a poly-bag that was clear on one side to encourage the prospect to read the headline.

‘There was a fear on my part that it was a unique but somewhat gimmicky approach, and that it might not have a long life as a control package,’ says agency President Lori Appleton.

Appleton says her fears were allayed when results for daily home delivery beat The Financial Post’s best response level to date by 38%, and results for weekly mail delivery beat the control by 54%.

Half a million prospects

From an initial test of 50,000, the campaign has since been rolled out to half a million prospects.

Q. Why was this piece successful? What made it work?

A. The concept was excellent. It was using the vehicle to make the sale. It was well-targetted. It made very effective and innovative use of personalization.

Q. On what level were you trying to generate a response – an emotional or intellectual level?

A. Without an emotional response, you won’t get the intellectual response. The headlines created the emotional response.

The use of personalization through the body copy, where the offer was presented, kept them reading. The intellectual response came in as they evaluated the offer.

Q. Excluding your own work, what have been some of the best examples of direct mail?

A. The Lexus campaign was good. It was sleek, upscale, it would make the reader feel good. It was well-targetted to an audience that was in a financial position to be able to buy.

The packages were laid out so you could almost feel the steering wheel and how it would feel sitting in those luxury seats. It got them right into the car really.

Q. What qualities do successful direct mail pieces have in common?

A. They get your attention. They involve you and get you to respond immediately. The longer you delay your response, the chances of getting a response diminish.

Q. How important is personalizing the letter?

A. It depends on the objectives. When prospecting for new customers, it can be important, but sometimes the benefit does not justify the additional cost.

With customers, it’s critical. It’s the most important way of building a relationship. And I’m not just talking about a name and address. I’m talking about using all the customer data [the client] has on file and using it strategically.

Q. Do you favor long or short letters?

A. I think the letter has to be as long as it takes to tell your story and get the action you want. That’s why I would never say, before we have strategically thought out a package, that it requires a two-page letter.

Short and snappy

I prefer them a little shorter, a little snappier, but that’s a personal opinion.

Q. How important to the success of the direct mail piece is knowing your prospects?

A. You can have the best package in the world, from a creative point of view, but if it goes to the wrong people, you’ve wasted your money. Your copy is only as good as your lists.

Q. Is there a hierarchy of objectives, creatively?

A. The first step is determining whether the idea or concept works within the overall strategy. You can have a great idea, but if it’s not going to accomplish your objectives, it’s not going to work.

One objective

When you’re putting a package together, there’s one objective and that’s getting the order. And I think the process you go through is ‘State your case, fine-tune the offer, make the offer and ask for action.’

Every piece in the package moves towards that [request.]

Q. How hard should you press for a response in a direct mail offer?

A. To me, the direct mail letter is a sales vehicle, whether you are asking them to write a cheque, or request more information, or asking them to buy the product.

How hard you press is relative to the action you want them to take.

If you just want them to ask for more information, you don’t have to be aggressive, because it’s a non-threatening [request.]

But if you want them to buy something, you’ve got to be a little more aggressive.

Q. Do you see direct mail primarily as a support for mass media advertising or as a stand-alone medium?

A. I see it as one of the components of the marketing mix that works together to accomplish the overall strategic objectives.

It can stand alone, but I think it’s stronger as part of a multi-media campaign. I don’t see it as a support of mass media at all. I see it as a key component.

Q. If you look at the winners of this year’s RSVP Awards, what trends do you see creatively?

A. They are much more attention-getting. The creative isn’t being saved for what’s inside, it starts on the outside. All of the winners did something different on the outside.

I also sense that a lot of these packages are well researched. The response rates were exceptional, which leads me to believe that targetting is getting more and more sophisticated.