Consumers Distributing campaign

Magnets help attract customersA recent direct marketing campaign to promote Consumers Distributing's new Phone Up Pick Up service used fridge magnets and sticky labels to increase the catalogue retailer's attraction to infrequent and lapsed customers.The Phone Up Pick Up service, which...

Magnets help attract customers

A recent direct marketing campaign to promote Consumers Distributing’s new Phone Up Pick Up service used fridge magnets and sticky labels to increase the catalogue retailer’s attraction to infrequent and lapsed customers.

The Phone Up Pick Up service, which is being tested in the Calgary market, enables customers to order merchandise from the Consumers catalogue by phoning a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week toll-free number.

Guaranteed in stock

Once the order has been confirmed with a Consumers operator, the merchandise is guaranteed in stock. Customers then have 48 hours to pick up their orders at the nearest Consumers location.

As well, Consumers has installed dedicated express desks in each of its seven Calgary stores so Phone Up Pick Up customers do not have to stand in line with customers who are placing their orders.

On their way

They simply sign for their merchandise, pay the bill and are on their way.

Key to the success of the Phone Up Pick Up service was building awareness with several target groups, including infrequent and lapsed customers, says Bill Allen, creative director at The Greaves & Allen Studios in Markham, Ont.

‘Leave behinds’

And the best way to do that, Allen says, was by using direct mail to distribute fridge magnet and sticky label ‘leave-behinds’ that would remain in the customer’s home long after the brochures ended up in the recycling bin.

He says the magnet brochure was mailed to about 36,000 customers who had made at least one, but not more than three purchases in the past year.

These were customers who were aware of the Consumers name, but, for one reason or another, did not keep the store top-of-mind when buying housewares, jewellery, toys, leisure products or other categories that Consumers stocks.

Allen says the magnet was a means of getting the Phone Up Pick Up concept in front of people and, in all likelihood, in close proximity to a phone.

‘A fridge magnet, albeit not innovative in itself, was a very effective piece to do that,’ he says.

The label brochure was mailed to a wider audience of about 100,000, with the instruction to peel off and reaffix the label to the front of the Consumers catalogue.

Allen says this was important for a couple of reasons.

Connect service

First, the catalogue had been distributed in August, before the service was up and running. The label became a way of physically connecting the service to the catalogue.

Second, in the case of Consumers Distributing, the catalogue is the store – whether at home or at the retail location, customers make their selections from the book.

Address desire

As Allen says, the idea behind both pieces was not to come out with a hard-hitting Consumers message, but to try to address the desire of the customer for an easier way to shop.

While the concept seemed simple enough, several obstacles had to be overcome at the printing stage, says Emilio Ciampini, vice-president and partner at Etobicoke, Ont.-based Clarke Lithographing, the printer behind both jobs.

Seal brochure

Since the magnet brochure was to become its own mailer – Consumers had said from the beginning it did not want to do a traditional direct mail piece, including an envelope, letter, buckslip and so on – Clarke Litho had to find a way to seal the brochure so that it prevented the magnet from becoming lost should it become unstuck from its adhesive patch and also remain flat enough to be processed by Canada Post.

Sheet-fed press

Allen says he did not have the option of using a ‘zipper perforation’ because the print run of 36,000 pieces was too short to justify the use of Clarke Litho’s web-press, with its sophisticated on-line capabilities.

The piece was printed using a regular sheet-fed press.

The solution, says Ciampini, was the use of a fugitive seal – a dry, clear, non-puckering glue that seals the brochure well enough to make it through postal sortation, but does not mar the visual properties of the piece upon opening.

Ciampini also applied to the piece a glossy varnish, to seal the ink on the paper and make it scuff-resistant.

‘It was something we did to enable the printing processes to take place – the perforating, the folding, the application of the magnet, the sealing, the postal sorting — and, ultimately, still take some abuse from the consumer, who has to open it and unfold it before he can read the message,’ Ciampini says.

The application of both magnets and the labels had to be done by hand, (it took eight people five days to do the work) Ciampini says, because, again, the test run was fairly small.

He says if the piece is successful, however, and Consumers decides to expand its Phone Up Pick Up service to other parts of the country, the process will be automated.

‘We will be in a position, if required, to do 300,000 of each item and do it within a seven- to 10-day period, start to finish. That would include printing, applying the labels, the magnets, folding and sealing,’ Ciampini says.

While it is too soon to gauge the success of the direct mail campaign (the first batch of brochures went out the first week of October) Allen says the combination of the magnet, the label and a $5 coupon offer should ensure Consumers meets its objectives.