This stealthy marketing campaign worked by accident! A reminder that sometimes the best ideas come from our mistakes.
What would you do if you opened a UPS envelope and there was nothing inside?
Friends of mine, who have asked to remain anonymous, as they don’t want to alert their competitors to the success of their sales campaign, inadvertently answered this question a few years ago when they accidentally mailed several hundred empty UPS envelopes.
UPS envelopes don’t have the cachet they had, say, in the 1970s. Even so, nearly everyone still opens them, unlike most of the junk mail we receive.
My friends launched a marketing campaign in which they were reaching out to owners of a certain type of lease, in order to offer them more attractive terms. These lease holders were notoriously difficult to reach.
The company intended to send them marketing material in a UPS envelope, with their 1-800 number printed on the return address label. But they mistakenly sent out those empty envelopes.
To the company’s surprise, their phones started to ring. The prospects wanted to know: “What were you trying to send me?” The company’s executives soon realized their accidental tactic worked, and the stealth campaign became its core direct-mailing strategy.
Let me stop here with a word of caution. The company’s decision to make this its core marketing strategy has obvious ethical, and potentially legal, implications that every venture should consider before initiating a similar campaign. All marketing tactics a company deploys should be consistent with its values and be in accordance with your local laws, as well as those of the recipients.
Having said that, my friends felt that this campaign didn’t cross their line because the company clearly indicated who they were from the initial envelope’s return address, as well as in the follow-on letters, which were upon company letterhead. A quick Google search would inform a recipient of the company’s business model and it would not take a huge leap to determine why they might be reaching out.
What’s more, it clearly worked: Over a multiyear period, the response rate of the empty envelopes averaged 15%.
When prospects called, the person answering the phone asked, “Are you one of our partners?” Prospects would explain that they were not partners, and that the envelope was empty. But the conversations had begun, and they would quickly segue into discussions of a potential partnership.
Read More: | An Accidental Marketing Tactic that Many Companies Can Learn From | WSJ | http://on.wsj.com/2yuD16O