b+p+t Communication Solutions uses 1:1 marketing to transform university’s direct marketing strategy, helping client to exceed goal by more than 30%


In the world of QR codes, mobile messaging and tweet-ups, direct mail campaigns may sound a little quaint.

But think again –marketers are achieving surprising success using print to drive a multi-channel campaign. And what may be even more surprising, they are achieving it with one of the youngest of decision-making demographics – high school students.

“It’s direct mail, that’s true,” said Heather Gims, Director of Marketing and Business Development for b+p+t Communication Solutions (bpt) in Cincinnati, “but it’s direct mail you can’t ignore.”

Gims’ firm helped a Midwest university not only achieve its honors program enrollment goal, but exceed it by more than 30 percent using a highly personalized, multichannel program.

“Some people may be surprised that this program was so successful,” she continued, “in this world of fast-paced technology advancements, and especially with this young demographic -- high school students.  But this approach worked astoundingly well, and we have data we believe other firms will find compelling.”

Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, had been using direct mail for years in its approach to the competitive world of recruiting top students to its prestigious honors program. Its beautifully-crafted packets competed against the stacks of other direct mail that inundate these prospective students.

But then they decided to test the idea of using 1:1 marketing.

To get the students’ attention, bpt developed a test campaign not only employing personal URLs (PURLs) and other variable data printing, but also customized the pieces to the interests of the students.

In addition, bpt worked with Miami to compile a highly targeted prospect database, which resulted in lower overall quantities and a cost savings in print and postage. The data they had for these selected students was used to personalize brochures, postcards and emails in addition to PURLs.

“The results were kind of staggering,” Gims said. “One aspect of the marketing campaign was to invite students to a campus visit event called Scholars Day. The events filled up from the first mailing and so a second planned mailing had to be cancelled because the response was so overwhelming.”

By the time fall enrollment numbers were in, Miami realized it had not only met its Honors Program enrollment goal, but surpassed it by 31 percent, an achievement they credited to the 1:1 marketing campaign they developed with bpt.

Miami is working with bpt again this year, as bpt further develops and refines this targeted approach that has even resulted in comments on it from parents.

“My daughter absolutely loved the Scholars Day and spent most of yesterday working on her applications,” one parent wrote.

“ I wanted to mention that she’s been recruited by a lot of top tier schools and what stood out to her ahead of time was Miami’s marketing materials and the personalization she received in the materials. She now compares all of the materials she receives to Miami’s and threw away a huge stack of other schools’ brochures yesterday because they’re not ‘good enough’!”

Because it was a test project, data was captured on a variety of measurements, and Gims will share those details and others when she is one of the top speakers at an upcoming event for marketers and print buyers next month in Chicago. 

Gims will be speaking at Print Buyers International Print and Media Conference Midwest, Thursday, May 19, 2011 at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare. Information and registration for the daylong conference is available at www.printbuyersinternational.com.

Cost is $99, but bpt is able to offer a coupon code (BPT) that provides a $10 savings.

You can also reach Gims for details on the presentation and a white paper on the project at heather.gims@bpt4u.com or at 513-782-5212.