The September 2010 issue of our ‘Sample of the Month’ case study features our client International Reading Association and their use of a multi-prong, integrated marketing approach to selling copies of the new Reciprocal Teaching at Work, second edition.
This case study should get your creative juices flowing. We outline the strategy of the campaign and provide pictures of each channel used: postcard, email, space ads and a banner ad. Ballantine handled the printing and mailing of the postcard, and complete design work.
CLICK HERE for pictures.
For this case study, we asked IRA’s Publication Marketing Manager the following questions:
What was the strategy behind the creative?
The first edition of Reciprocal Teaching has been a perennial best seller for IRA since its publication in 2002. It’s fair to say, too, that the author launched her own consulting career off its success, then went on to publish with other large publishers over the last decade, before coming back to IRA for this second edition. So when we started talking marketing strategy, the author supplied us with a number of really solid promotional quotes from people who had read the manuscript and used the author’s ideas in their teaching. The first idea was to build the entire campaign around those quotes, relying on the author’s reputation and name recognition. Then I read the book’s foreword, which was written by a well-known expert in the reading education field; he compared this second book to a blockbuster Hollywood sequel. Ta-da! A seed was planted for a movie poster look for our printed pieces.
When I talked with Ballantine, they immediately took to the idea of a super-dramatic movie poster look, but they also understood that IRA usually goes a more subdued route with our advertising. They delivered a number of very different concepts for me to pitch to the stakeholders, but we all agreed that the black background and large reversed-out type was tremendously eye-catching and different – appropriate for a book we hope to really sell like a blockbuster. They designed print ads for us first, then created a two-sided oversized postcard using that same look on the front but centering on more of the promotional quotes on the back. They also designed an e-mail blast and website skyscraper ad for us with the same look.
One of the problems we have always had at IRA is getting the message across with less copy – we tend to over-explain, forgetting that people don’t really want to read a synopsis of a book in an ad. Especially in this day with so many messages bombarding us from all angles, it’s important to get the point across quickly and emphatically. Ballantine asked all the right questions in our initial discussions, and they had great ideas for design and copy and positioning – focusing on the cover of the book and adding some drama and excitement to what little copy we employed.
Who received the direct mail and email?
The direct mail piece went to 75,000 prospects, both in-house and external lists. We targeted IRA members and non-members who had purchased the previous edition and similar titles, as well as subscribers to our elementary and adolescent level journals. Our external lists included some high-performing lists we’ve used in past mailings to elementary teachers, reading specialists, and administrators who might be interested in using the book for staff development.
The e-mail piece went only to IRA members and past purchasers, approximately 55,000 recipients.
The campaign launched on September 8 with the postcard (which didn’t start hitting mailboxes until around 9/20), then the e-mail blast on 9/16. The website ad has been on our site since 9/8, and we had a banner on our sister site, ReadWriteThink.org. We also did some social media marketing, posting on our Facebook page (where we have over 6,000 fans) and making announcements on partner sites and FB pages. We’ve also sent review copies to bloggers. And we’ve included a publicity component with this campaign, featuring the book in a piece on comprehension instruction in our member newspaper, two of our monthly e-newsletters (all of which have about 60,000 subscribers).
We saw immediate results on the e-mail, as would be expected. Although the open rate was somewhat lower than expected (about 12%) our click-through rate was about average (3%) and we have seen a few bulk orders of the book, which means that targeting those reading specialists and administrators was effective. Because the postcard has only just hit this week, it’s hard to give quantifiable sales data, but we’ve seen spikes of orders geographically, which is interesting – we can tell where the postcards have been received and when. The ads will be running in October and November, so we hope to see some increase in sales then, too.
Have you used this integrated marketing strategy before with good results?
We have used the postcard/e-mail strategy in the past with good results, yes. We find that offering a pre-order discount works best, but because of the timing of the publication and some other transitions happening at IRA, we just couldn’t implement a pre-order deal in time. The key, too, is the large postcard size – it’s really hard to ignore!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
This was my first time working with Ballantine, but they were highly recommended by a colleague. I have been tremendously impressed with the level of customer service – our reps have been with me every step of the way, helping to orchestrate each phase as seamlessly and affordably as possible. Chris and Diana are on top of every detail, offering solutions when necessary. Ryan helped me and Dawn work through some of the technical details of the e-mail blast. And Dawn’s design creativity and enthusiasm really sparked the entire project. I look forward to working with this group again and again in the future!
More Info? If you would like more info about this case study, or about the direct marketing services Ballantine can provide your company, please email Ryan Cote.