From 3-D to Pop-ups: Go Dimensional

November 1, 2007
Mike Maguire
Pharmaceutical Executive
Volume 0, Issue 0

In this age of new media, social networking, blogs, and cyber-clutter, it's easy to forget the appeal of the real-of things that you can hold in your hand and engage with physically. But make no mistake, despite all of the high-tech tools available to us, advertising still relies on evoking an emotional response by tickling the human senses.

In this age of new media, social networking, blogs, and cyber-clutter, it's easy to forget the appeal of the real—of things that you can hold in your hand and engage with physically. But make no mistake, despite all of the high-tech tools available to us, advertising still relies on evoking an emotional response by tickling the human senses.

Mike Maguire

For years now, one excellent way to deliver the tickle has been with "dimensional mail"—the kind of mail piece that cuts through the clutter by arriving in a tube or box full of surprises: premiums, lights, sound, pop-ups, lenticulars (those wiggly, almost 3-D pictures), interactive games, moveable charts, wheels, and the like. Dimensional mail has been around for years, but there are always new options to keep the approach fresh. With the right strategy and follow-through, dimensional mail can be a great way to boost ROI and build your brand.

Attention, Please!

The largest and most successful use of high-impact dimensional mail is for new-product introductions and highly targeted marketing efforts. These include new launches, new indications, updated dosage regimens, rebranding efforts, or brand extensions—instances when important new information is being offered and a change in thinking or behavior is required. In these instances, when getting heard is mission critical, a dimensional piece can serve as the opening salvo for an ongoing, integrated communication program.

Dimensional marketing tools, such as this mailer for Xifaxan (it arrives flat, but pops up into a tissue box), offer an eye-catching, creative, and appealing way to display clinical information

However, with the downsizing of sales forces, dimensional pieces are also being utilized as "nonpersonal" promotion vehicles. They become a low-cost alternative to an "in person" detail call. For example, in a five-wave dimensional direct mail campaign developed by D&R Communications, Salix Pharmaceuticals utilized a number of creative techniques to drive home key messaging for its GI antibiotic, Xifaxan (rifaximin). The campaign introduced the product to physicians and touted the benefits of Xifaxan's nonsystemic treatment of diarrheal diseases.

The tag line, Works in the gut and only the gut, emphasizes the drug's targeted, nonsystemic therapy. Each piece in the campaign drove home the benefits of Xifaxan through the graphic image of a dart and a bull's-eye that is executed in a number of interactive ways. For instance, in one piece, when the physician pulled a tab, a paper dart slid down the page to a direct hit on the target. One mailer featured an offer for a free roll-up dartboard with darts. Three of the five waves included lifestyle images and case studies featuring patient targets for the drug: the traveling salesperson, the active retiree, and the working mom. Pieces also included short quizzes to invite physician interaction.

Top-Five Tips for Planning an Effective Dimensional Campaign

The Xifaxan campaign hits a number of key leverage points available to marketers who need to break through in a crowded marketplace, including:

  • multiple waves with consistent imaging and messaging

  • flat and dimensional mailers, all with interactive features

  • multiple offers for premiums (some included in the box mailers)

  • sales force follow-up

  • offers for free samples to encourage trial

  • multiple options for the physician to respond, become educated, and interact with the drug's benefits.

Dimensional and interactive pieces can also be utilized as a targeted "special operations" tool to accomplish a specific objective. For example, in the cholesterol category, the team for Merck/Schering-Plough's Vytorin (ezetimibe and simvastatin) used a medical education premium offer wrapped in an interactive mailer to drive traffic to the Vytorin booth at the American Heart Association conference in Chicago. When the recipient pulled a tab at the bottom of the piece, a "secret panel" popped out of the top, revealing the offer.

In another example, an Alzheimer's drug campaign targeted at general practitioners and neurologists employed a multi-wave, high-impact direct mail campaign that invited physicians to an interactive online experience. The direct mail formats included box mailers (some with premiums) and a pop-up mailer. The campaign, which leveraged the fact that physicians appear to be receptive to tactile mail pieces during the day but prefer to go online at night, achieved better than double-digit increases in new prescriptions.

Look at Me

The communication process cannot happen unless the target of the advertising goes through three distinct stages:

Attention is exactly what it sounds like: "Hey, look at me! Pick me up. I'm different from the rest of the mail in the stack." Dimensional mail is great at grabbing attention by simply looking, feeling, and, yes, even smelling different than typical flat mail. Thickness, size, shape, graphics, textures, copy, and a familiar brand can all help the package scream, "Open me!" Recently, a client produced a piece shaped like a pair of fuzzy dice, complete with a soft cover made of real, bright-purple plush. Textured varnishes that look like leather, see-through boxes that tease the contents, boldly personalized content, and special effects, such as holographic films, all help stop the client cold.

Increasingly, scent is being utilized to grab attention for new-flavor introductions, to communicate mood, or to transport the prospect to the fresh scent of a spring day. A recent study published in Packaging Digest showed that of the five senses, scent was second only to sight in its importance in the buying decision. Further, the study revealed that when consumers can recall more than one sensory impression conveyed by a product, brand loyalty is around 60 percent.

Interaction is the next step. Once the door has been kicked open and you have a target's attention, you must generate interaction ("Who is it from?" "How does it work?" "I get a free...what?"). If interaction is achieved, then a connection is born. Dimensional pieces invite interaction through unfolding, touching, investigating, inviting a response to key messaging, and prompting the recipient to wonder, "How did they do that?" Lights, sound, puzzles, games, and clever charts that lead the recipient through complex information in a fun and interesting way also achieve interaction—but it can't stop here.

Involvement happens when you cross the bridge from flirtation to connection. This is when the recipient is ready to seek out additional information. Credibility is building. A dialog is beginning. Here is where combining high-impact traditional tools, Web-based tools, and sales force follow-up can work beautifully together.

Although there are many creative ways to execute a dimensional marketing program, it is critical that your campaigns always include concise messaging, a compelling call to action, multiple ways to respond, and, when included, premiums that are meaningful and worth keeping. Finally, always think multiple touches via multiple channels, and remember to be there when your target wants to interact—24/7. Attention. Interaction. Involvement. Even with all of the new technology options available to marketers, these three elements remain the key to a successful advertising effort. While it is challenging to find the right combination of traditional and nontraditional tools to grab and delight your target, there are rich rewards for marketers who do. Tickling more than one of your target's senses can be the start of a long and beautiful relationship.

Mike Maguire is CEO of Structural Graphics. He can be reached at mikem@structuralgraphics.com