Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The free calendar has been a marketing staple..

The free calendar has been a marketing staple for as long as anyone can recall, a branded thank-you extended by businesses ranging from banks to fast-food chains to car repair shops. Now cable TV provider Comcast has made the old new, crafting a recent mail campaign that integrated the time-honored calendar with a fresh digital twist.

Just before the year began, Comcast began sending out branded calendars to customers in select areas in hopes of engaging its audience via bold graphics and some money-saving offerings. The calendars are filled with coupons for on-demand movies and discount offers on Comcast digital video recorders. They also provide links to free software and invitations to create a personalized link on a Comcast Web site.

Comcast also cleverly tied in monthly events or holidays with a message that promotes Comcast products. For instance, on the date a pro football championship was to be played, the message on the calendar read: “Enjoy the big game in Comcast HD.”

Breen says the calendar — which was mailed to customers in several states in the Northeast and Midwest — is largely a gesture of appreciation, but it also allows the cable giant to communicate more intimately with its audience about the value of the cable service. “We’re happy with what our customers have bought, and we want them to get the most out of what they have,” says Karen Breen, vice president of marketing strategies for Comcast’s North Central Division. “This is really important in tough economic times for people to realize the value they have.”

The calendars also allow Comcast the chance to educate recipients about its array of offerings beyond its cable service. “Direct mail enables us to have more room to say what we want, and we do leverage it quite a bit,” notes Breen. “We were trying to think of an innovative way to talk about our product benefits and features that would have a life and context to it.”

In the first few months of the campaign, Breen says, anecdotal feedback has suggested that the effort will prove fruitful. Customers have called Comcast to get their own calendars and are also asking to be added to the mailing list for next year’s version.

As the year progresses, Comcast will track redemption of the on-demand video coupons, which are sprinkled throughout the calendar, to determine how many calendars are prompting consumer action. Breen says the company will also study Web traffic to determine how many calendar recipients are being driven online.

Breen says the idea for the calendar grew out of a series of creative direct mail pieces that Comcast designed in 2008, featuring bold graphics that promoted the Comcast user experience. Many of those images were included in the calendar.

In addition to the mailings, the calendar was also used as a free-standing insert in newspapers and given away at Comcast service centers in the targeted states.

Source: Deliver Magazine

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