One of the world’s most successful B2B campaigns – but would it work today?

Today on Throwback Thursday, I thought I’d share one of the world’s most successful B2B direct mail campaigns from 21 years ago – and see if it would still stand the test of time.

It was created for The Observatory Hotel in Sydney, to promote the hotel’s conference facilities. It generated close to 85% response rate and 15 unsolicited letters of congratulations from executives who received the mailing. Wouldn’t you like your prospects to thank you for advertising to them?

The campaign paid for itself with qualified leads within four hours of being delivered. It also won marketing awards around the world.

Here are some of the elements:

The mailing was almost the size of a shirt box.

The perfect conference is just a coffee break away…

Inside the mailing there was a coffee plunger, fresh ground Italian coffee, a gold-leaf bone-china coffee mug, the world’s first ever virtual tour of a hotel – stored on a floppy disk. (ask you parents if you’re not familiar with a floppy disk).

Involvement devices…

There was also a letter and brochure with a very powerful offer – FREE lunch at the hotel. Never underestimate the power of a FREE lunch or drink to motivate response.

Here’s the floppy disk:

World’s first virtual tour of a hotel…

I suspect that if you ran it again today, you would get a very similar response. Certainly it would do way better than an email or online advertising campaign. And you wouldn’t need any social selling or alleged thought leadership to support it.

There are a number of reasons for its stunning success:

  • You cannot avoid the mailing, it’s the size of a shirt box
  • It has lots of involvement devices to grab the recipient’s attention
  • A world first – the first ever virtual tour of a hotel, delivered on a floppy disk
  • A strong and appealing offer – free lunch at the hotel
  • The message content respected the reader

Those who didn’t respond immediately, were followed-up by telephone and this added to the overall result. The mailing is fun because of the way it involves the recipient. Usually the recipient’s gatekeeper will participate when it is opened, so there is discussion around the mailing.

People like to receive 3D mailings, as there is implied value in them. Even more they like to receive them when they offer worthwhile incentives and involvement devices.

In today’s digital jargon, this is known as engaging with your customers.

The only change you would make to the mailing if you sent it today, would be to put the virtual tour on a customised website – using a PURL – so you could track the response by individual. The site could include video testimonials from happy clients. And it could demonstrate the conference facilities or destination in use – different themes, size of events and more.

So if you work in B2B, don’t ignore the most powerful channel for generating responses – direct mail. Who knows, like The Observatory Hotel, your prospects may even thank you for it?

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  1. Sad that most companies would see this as a wasted investment these days, opting for some sort of digital wizardry aimed at the same target group, but appreciated mostly by millennials.

  2. Yes Gareth, it seems marketers have become less skilled in the digital age as they only know how to use a handful of online channels – and then not very well.

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