Disney’s Self-Mailer Rolls Out Value

2 Sep

Disneyland puts its summer resort offer in lights in a deluxe self-mailer

Direct mailers who love self-mailers love them because they’re produced quickly and cost effectively, eliminate the problem of getting the envelope opened, and can really support a lot of creative that wouldn’t normally fit into a typical direct mail package.

In selling its resort offerings, Disney and its Disneyland resort have found self-mailers work best. “Being in direct marketing, we all know about #10 as one of the tried-and-true communication vehicles for direct response, but we … don’t use #10s and we pretty much just use self-mailers in terms of efficiencies in cost and speed to market,” says Patricia Rodriguez, CRM program manager II for Disney Destinations.

For its late summer Disneyland resort offer, Disney sent a deluxe self-mailer that folds out vertically into four panels on each side. The mailing dropped at the end of April, and along with an email component, it has been performing really well so far, bringing in more than 80 percent of the target sales the company wanted to achieve (with only 43 percent through the booking window).

When guests receive the mailing, they see teaser copy on one side, which reads, “See The Light — An amazing hotel offer and awesome entertainment make this summer sizzle at Disneyland.” Behind the copy, there are white lights and bright stars set against a night sky. On the address side, the “Save 35 percent” offer, travel dates and guest PIN number are all spelled out.

Once inside the mailing, the “See The Light” theme is carried out with an entire vertical, four-panel side of the mailing showcasing Disney’s Electrical Parade and fireworks show. Copy at the top reads, “See The Night In A Whole New Light!” and there are dragons, flames, bursts of fireworks and the iconic Disneyland castle lit up at night. The offer dates, discount and call to action (a toll-free number) are all repeated on the edges of the luminescent panel.

“That [panel] kind of served two purposes: One excites the children because it’s something that mom could share with the children, but also perhaps something that could be left as a leave behind … like a mini-poster for kids,” Rodriguez shares.

The remaining two sides of the panel show pictures of families enjoying the resort and reiterate the offer, call to action and benefits of vacationing with Disney. In addition to the toll-free number, guests also can visit a website to learn more about the offer, but they must book over the phone. An email communication that really pushed the offer, and featured similar creative, also was sent out around the same time as the direct mailing (Archive code #520-705739-0905).

Due to the down economy, Rodriguez says the traveler’s mailbox has become even more cluttered with competing resorts clamoring for bookings. In this crowded environment, Disney has decided to really push its offer. “We’ve definitely become more ‘retail-oriented,’ if you will, because we want to make sure it’s a hard-hitting sales message-that the guest understands what they’re getting and why it’s such a good deal and why it makes Disneyland, in this case, affordable for them to come [to] at this particular time,” she explains. Using the creative four-panel vertical self-mailer is another way the resort tried to break through the noise and clutter in the prospect’s mailbox.

Rodriguez uses data from past campaigns and proprietary targeting and segmentation to mine Disney’s internal and external lists for the best prospects. The prime guests are families with children, and Rodriguez says this and Disney’s other mailings tend to be geared toward moms in particular. “It’s the mom who goes through the mail … and is the decision maker, and she would be able to ‘sell’ the family on the vacation,” Rodriguez points out.

Disney sends several seasonal offers for its resorts throughout the year, and although this campaign did not include any tests, it regularly tests offers, creative, timing and channel, and does a full analysis of each campaign to come up with rich data to use in the next mailing. For next year, it might send or test this format again. “Potentially we could test this campaign against a simpler format if we did feel that this one paid out at the level that it needed to,” she says.

To determine plans for next year, Disney first must analyze the current campaign. “We’ll compare it to past campaigns, asking, ‘Did it perform as well as other campaigns did?’ ‘What’s the ROI on this versus maybe other direct mail formats that were simpler and less costly?’ and devise our strategy for next year,” Rodriguez reveals. One thing is certain, Disney will work hard to flourish in another competitive year of travel marketing. “We’re going to move into another year that’s going to be very similar to this year, in terms of vicious competition in the marketplace, so we’re always going to be ‘pushing the envelope’ without using an envelope,” Rodriguez laughs.

(Originally published in Inside Direct Mail, September 2009).

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