Going Coconuts

The coconut may be good for the body, but, as AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District has discovered, the tropical delight can be pretty healthy for a marketing campaign, too. In April 2011, as part of an elaborate self-promotional campaign, the Pittsburgh franchise mailed coconuts to an assortment of local high-level marketing executives. “There’s a wow factor,” says Tracy Schneider, the company’s design and marketing manager. “It’s kind of hard to ignore a coconut. It really demonstrated the lengths that we go to get a message out.”

The underlying message was as straightforward as the campaign was quirky: AlphaGraphics isn’t just a printer — it’s also a creative marketing partner. AlphaGraphics wanted to show how mail can play a robust role in an integrated campaign; the company also wanted to build awareness of its expanded offerings and mailing services.

The inspiration for the multitouch effort originated from a simple question asked by a staffer — “Did you know you can mail a coconut?” That set the firm’s creative engines to churning. The theme that eventually emerged, “Use Your Coconut,” was intended to be interpreted both literally and figuratively by its audience. The campaign was aimed at 200 high-value decision makers. Prospects were identified according to their companies’ sales, whether they were current customers and by the amount of mailing services they used.

For the first phase, the marketers sent each person a coconut that was wrapped in nylon netting. Included was a personalized hangtag with the mailing information, factoids about the power of direct mail and a personalized URL. Two weeks later, AlphaGraphics followed up with a large, translucent envelope containing a brochure about mail trends. Those who didn’t respond to phase one were again encouraged to visit their personalized website where they could be entered to win a “second-chance” gift certificate. Recipients who had filled out the phase-one survey also received a personalized letter of thanks.

Finally, about two weeks later, anyone who had responded to the first or second phases was mailed a coconut-themed invitation to an executive marketing workshop hosted by AlphaGraphics.

The campaign proved fruitful, with 41 percent of recipients completing the online survey after receiving the coconut. The first and second phases combined achieved a 46-percent response rate — more than double AlphaGraphics’s initial goal — and 41 targets attended the workshop. “If we can’t be successful with a campaign for ourselves, how are we going to be successful for our customers?” Schneider asks. “But we are risk takers here, and it worked out to our benefit. People are still talking about it.”

The Essentials:

Company: AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Target Audience: 200 local, high-value prospects and current clients.
Goal: To drive targets to a personalized website, build a list of respondents to invite to a marketing event and generate leads for mailing services.
DM Vehicle:
A coconut weighing between one and two pounds that was sent in nylon netting and attached to a bi-fold hangtag that included the mailing information, factoids about direct mail and a personalized URL.
41% of recipients completed the online survey after receiving the coconut. The overall integrated campaign generated a 300% ROI and has helped the business grow more than 20 percent since its launch.

Love dimensional mailers? Then check out Issue 1 of Deliver for the tablet. You’ll find innovative dimensional mail pieces that you can interact with: Take a John Deere tractor for a spin, or discover how a baseball bat hit one out of the park.

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