GTE MAILINGS DANGLE OFFER OF PHONE TIME TO SPARK CALLS

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GTE Communications Corp., Dallas, wanted customers and wanted them fast. Robinson & Maites had its initial meeting with GTE Dec. 1, 1997, and the first of three direct mail pieces went out the door nine days later.

"The first charge from GTE was to make the phones ring, so we offered an incentive of free call time," said Jim Kaczkowski, VP-account director at the Chicago agency. The first mailing "increased the call rate by about 50% over what they'd been using and the close rate [the number of people who sign up for the service] remained constant."

GTE Communications serves residential and business customers by bun-dling telecommunications services and marketing sales and services, as well as cable modem Internet access in some markets.

$25 IN FREE PHONE TIME

The first and second direct mail pieces were purely promotional, offering $25 in free phone time in exchange for listening to a pitch for the GTE Unlimited package. The second postcard dropped Jan. 2. Both mailers listed a toll-free number and relied on GTE phone reps to close deals.

The objective of the third mailing was education, and because it explained the package's various components in detail, "it was also a guide while the phone call was taking place, which led to a faster sale and a faster close with less talk time," Mr. Kaczkowski said.

100% INCREASE

The third piece brought a 100% response increase and doubled the close rate over the year before.

"Our objective [with all three pieces] was to maximize response rate, maximize the close rate and decrease the per order close time, all of which has been done," Mr. Kaczkowski said.

"It set records within GTE in terms of response and results," said Frank Kinder, assistant VP-consumer marketing at GTE Communications.

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