Pizza box delivers results for WebEx

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WebEx Communications ordered pizza delivery for 9,500 business customers and prospects to promote its new Training Center. However, just as WebEx's Training Center is a virtual classroom online, the pizza itself was virtual.

The three-dimensional direct marketing piece was an actual, albeit empty, pizza box, designed to grab the recipient's attention. It did that job handily, yielding an 11.3% response rate. WebEx and its agency, Loomis Group, said the goal had been a conservative 2% to 5% response rate.

"We're really happy if a campaign does 2%," said Sara Azadi, account executive at Loomis Group, San Francisco. "We thought since this one was so interactive, we'd expand our goal up to 5%. We were quite happy with such a great response rate."

The client was happy, too. "Whenever you hit your install base [of current customers], you'll get above the industry norm response rate, but this far exceeded even that," said Kimberley Kasper, director of direct marketing at WebEx.

One of 14 Gold Echo awards

The "Training Center Pizza Campaign" was one of 14 Gold Echo Award winners honored by the Direct Marketing Association at its annual conference last month in New Orleans. This year marked the 75th annual presentation of the Echo Awards.

The DMA also gave top honors to another U.S.-based b-to-b campaign and three overseas b-to-b campaigns: The Seattle SuperSonics "Multi-Game" campaign, created by DDB Direct, Seattle; Custodian Print Management's "10 Ways" campaign, by Dialogue, Dublin, Ireland; Via Global's "Lost & Found," by Salem, São Paulo, Brazil; and Foote, Cone & Belding New Zealand's internal "Trust Study" campaign.

The SuperSonics campaign from DDB Direct was a b-to-b and consumer campaign designed to sell multigame packages to corporations and individual fans for the 2003-04 NBA season. It included direct mail, telemarketing and a T-shirt premium.

The DMA also awarded 33 silver, 37 bronze and five special awards, from among 1,077 entries, including 36 b-to-b. The Henry Hoke Award, one of the five special awards, went to a New Zealand b-to-b campaign, "Dunlop Direzza Type Launch," created by Clemenger BBDO, Wellington. The winner of the Hoke Award is chosen by direct marketing company Hoke Communications and "reflects the campaign with the most courageous solution to a difficult sales and marketing problem."

WebEx's pizza box copy announced "Fresh hot training!" and the "ingredients" listed were features of the Training Center. Packages were sent from August through November 2003 to both customers and prospects with training management titles (corporate training and curriculum developers) in the company's house file.

The package's call to action was to drive the recipient to a Web link that had a registration form to sign up for the "Essential ingredients for effective live online learning" seminar the company was hosting. Once registered, the respondents were sent a $20 gift certificate for an actual pizza.

"Since our audience has the challenge of making their training modules compelling and interactive, we wanted our piece to mirror their efforts," the agency wrote on its Echo entry form. "The creative strategy was to develop a dimensional direct mail piece that was not only unusual, fun and had stopping power but was informative and educational without being too corporate or pushy."

"We wanted to make the piece fun for the decision-makers as well as their teams," Azadi said. "So we played up the pizza theme, offered a free pizza gift certificate and scheduled the Web seminar at lunchtime so most people could gather their teams together and eat their pizza as they participated in the Web seminar," according to the entry form.

Speaking to pain points

"We spoke to their pain points," Kasper said. "Training is a very focused group. They like to be educated. They want to know that you know the problems they face."

A follow-up e-mail a week after the pizza box dropped was sent to the same list of targets to reinforce the offer and extol the benefits of the Training Center.

WebEx spent about $34,000 on the campaign. That was a bigger investment than usual, but the return on investment made it more than worthwhile.

"It was a stand-out piece," Kasper said. "If you got it in your mailbox, you'd open it. It was very compelling, and that helped drive a higher response rate."

"The forecast ROI was 8:1, but the actual ROI was 21:1," according to the entry form. "In 90-day bookings, we brought in $176,230, but in annualized revenue the total came to $704,920. These results are significant because this was the first time that we sent a direct mail piece with follow up e-mail to this customer target and allocated more budget than usual to the program. It proved to [WebEx] management that when we execute well-thought-out, creative and useful campaigns, not only do we exceed goals but the ROI on our investment yields much higher results."

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