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Transcontinental Printing finds the winning combination

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Challenge: In 2006, the Catalog and Magazine Group of Transcontinental Printing, a Saint-Laurent, Quebec-based printer and publisher, launched a campaign that literally unlocked the box to direct mail success. With stiff competition in the printing industry, Transcontinental needed a way to differentiate itself from other printers. “We wanted to position Transcontinental as a different printing company—one that was a thought leader in the printing industry,” said Bruce Jensen, VP-U.S. sales.

Solution: With that goal in mind, the marketing division of Transcontinental developed a unique marketing campaign “Get the Right Combination,” which aimed to generate a 50% response from catalogers in the U.S. Transcontinental created a 15-question online survey designed to better understand its target audience by soliciting insight from catalogers on what they look for when choosing a printer, as well as other perceived needs. With the help of ACT!, a customer relationship management software solution from Sage Software, Transcontinental sent a tri-dimensional direct marketing piece to 200 key prospects.

Prospects received a metallic lockbox with a manual combination wheel on the outside. In order to open the box, recipients had to go online and fill out the 15-question survey. Once the survey was completed, prospects were then given a code that opened the lockbox. Inside they found a small gift: a USB pen branded with the Transcontinental logo. Stored on the USB pen was a PowerPoint presentation on the benefits of partnering with Transcontinental.

Nazia Khan, consultant with Temple Scott Associates, a public and government relations firm in Toronto, Ontario, that worked with Transcontinental on the campaign, said, “within one week of the lockboxes being sent, 125 of the 200 prospects had responded. That number went up to 148 in two weeks.”

Such a response is virtually unheard of in direct marketing, Jensen said.

Results: The campaign generated a 74% response rate, well above the target of 50% and far above the average response rate of 2% to 3%. Transcontinental’s campaign also won the 2006 International Echo Award for excellence in direct marketing from the Direct Marketing Association. “The challenge in this campaign was to get people to respond to the survey, and we put a spin on [the campaign] to make it fun, interesting and exciting. One prospect received the wrong combination for the lockbox but was so curious as to what was in the box that he bashed it in with a bat,” Jensen said. “That just goes to show that good promotional pieces can really drive response.”

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