Headline: Fido teaches customers to 'stay'...

Headline: Fido teaches customers to ‘stay’

Synopsis: As the battle for cellular customers heats up, Montreal-based Microcell Solutions focuses its marketing efforts on boosting loyalty among its Fido wireless customer base. According to Microcell’s vice-president of marketing, Yona Shtern, it’s especially important to retain existing customers because the cost of attracting new ones runs between $400 and $500 each. So, while the company introduces a mass media ad campaign to promote a new 10-cent-a-minute calling plan as a means of attracting new customers, a separate direct mail execution is rolled out to existing customers. The direct component, developed by Montreal-based FCB Direct, lets customers know that Fido will be doubling their airtime at no extra charge.

One Year Later: According to Microcell, the retention offer worked wonderfully – a point of fact illustrated by the dozens of calls received from customers wanting to express their gratitude. Company spokesperson Lise Beauchemin labels the retention effort ‘one of the best things that’s happened to Microcell.’ Since last year, Microcell has continued to use direct mail to build relationships with Fido cell phone users. Ongoing customer research initiatives use e-mail as the primary communications tool. Meanwhile, a new relationship marketing program from Microcell is scheduled for launch this month, but at press time the company was not prepared to release details.

Headline: Privacy nabob probes alumni associations

Synopsis: The University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University come under scrutiny from B.C.’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC). The investigation follows a telemarketing campaign by Montreal-based insurance company Meloche Monnex that targets the schools’ alumni. It isn’t the first time a university has provided a third party with contact information for their graduates, but at issue is whether or not the schools made students aware of their intention to give out such information.

One Year Later: No ruling has been rendered yet, but the Privacy Commissioner’s office expects to report publicly on its investigation later this month. Since the complaint last year, the office has expanded the scope of its investigation to include the University of British Columbia and the University of Northern B.C., says Charmaine Lowe, communications director for the OIPC.

Headline: ClubLink breaks par with direct effort

Synopsis: Some five weeks after sending out a direct mail offer to 75,000 prospects, King City, Ont.-based golf club marketer ClubLink secures only 90 paid conversions. Low numbers…until one realizes that ClubLink is selling a $22,000 golf club membership. In fact, with its 90 paid conversions, ClubLink realizes a $2-million return on a $150,000 direct marketing investment. The heady results of the campaign, developed by Toronto-based agency Sharpe Blackmore Euro RSCG, spurs ClubLink’s vice-president of marketing, Natalie Henrie, to predict that direct marketing will soon account for more than its existing 20% share of the company’s marketing budget.

One Year Later: Direct mail continues to grow as a means of driving ClubLink’s membership sales, says Geri McCuish, the company’s director of marketing services. She says two direct mail campaigns, rolled out in November and June, each delivered good returns, while more recently, ClubLink has experimented with e-mail and a ‘softer’ postcard promotion to promote membership in its private golf clubs. These marketing efforts have been given a boost by a broader print, radio and television branding campaign. Meanwhile, ClubLink’s advertising agency, Sharpe Blackmore Saffer Euro RSCG, will create yet another direct mail effort, which is scheduled to drop by year-end. ClubLink’s efforts will also be bolstered by a new partnership arrangement with Delta Hotels, which will see Delta manage and develop resorts at ClubLink facilities and promote them through the hotelier’s own customer loyalty program. (See story, p. D7.)