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Improve Response Rates To An Advertising Campaign With Promotional Product Mailings

Promotional product mailings can dramatically improve response rates for campaigns involving other media, such as print advertising. The following study demonstrates this effect.

For this 1996 study, Dallas Marketing Group and Promotional Products Association helped a national tile distributor integrate the use of direct mail and promotional products into an existing print advertising campaign. Response rates were then tracked for a known group of subscribers. Some subscribers received only the trade ad, while others also received a sales letter, a promotional product, or a promotional product incentive. Presented below are the results of this study, followed by a more detailed description of the direct mail campaign.


  • The trade ad alone received a .7% response.
  • The addition of a personalized direct mail letter tripled the response rate to 2.3%.
  • When a dimensionally packaged promotional product (stress ball) was sent, along with information similar to the letter (but with a bolder presentation), the response rate rose to 4.2% (83% higher than for the personalized letter).
  • An impressive 9.55% response rate was obtained by sending out an eye-catching direct mail package that contained a promotional product incentive (for a calculator).
  • The calculator incentive package resulted in more than twice as many responses as the stress ball package, at one third the cost*.
  • Of those respondents who were exposed to both the trade ad and some form of direct mail, two-thirds identified the direct mail piece as having prompted their response.

*This estimate includes only the cost of the promotional products (not the cost of accompanying materials or postage).

Study details: The Dallas Marketing Group conducted this study in 1996, with a total of 82,305 trade magazine subscribers, randomly assigned to one of four groups, which received one of the following: trade ad only (n=75,305), trade ad plus sales letter (n=3,000), trade ad plus stress balloon package ($2 perceived value; n=2,000), or trade ad plus the calculator incentive package ($7 perceived value; n=2,000). A total of 886 responses were recorded.


To motivate resellers in a sales contest.

Strategy & Execution:
The Santa Ana, CA-based computer software/hardware distributor figured a chance to ride the famed Orient Express would excite resellers to maxium performance. Entries to the sweepstakes were to be awarded for each sale of the promoted concentrators, routers or hubs.

Five thousand resellers were mailed a sound card headlined “Aboard the Orient Express, you can find mystry, intrigue, and suspense.” Flipping to the inside cover produced the wail of a train whistle and an image aboard the parlor car of what could be the recipient if he or she won one of the six prizes trips.

Key accounts were also mailed an “executive stress train.” Designed as a desktop diversion, the promotional gift, with its microchip, recreated the exciting version of the rail excursion prize. Right down to the train whistle, bell and chugging sounds that accompanied a miniture locomotive as it inched its way over a foot-long track.

The systems marketing manager attributed a 51.3% increase in quarterly sales to the promotion.

Reprinted with permission of Promotional Products Association International, copyright 2005.

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