Sanda Communications - Home
Client Resources Contact Sitemap Who We Are What We Do How We Do It News

Take two DVRs and Call Me in the Morning
By Julia Oliver, account executive

Shawna Revak, CCTV product marketing manager at GE Interlogix, wanted to convince her sales channel that selling a digital video recorder (DVR) was not only much better than the current security VCRs they sell—but also fun. Although both pieces of equipment— a DVR and a security VCR—are gray boxes made for the same purpose, our job was to convince both the sales channel and the end user that our gray box was the far better choice.

As we all know, change can be scary. Changing from the security VCRs that a retail store has been using for years to a DVR is definitely a big change. All those new technology words. All that scary programming to learn. The fear of spending a lot of money on a new product you don’t understand.

Rather than confirm dealer fears by speaking about the great technological advances and capabilities the DVR has, we chose to present the DVR as a replacement for the VCR, in a way that used easy-to-understand phrasing, terms and end-user benefits that everyone could understand.

Common cure for the VCR plague
In an early meeting that included Shawna, our creative director Scott McCannell and me, Shawna read a memo from Tom Minerich, the director of sales for OEM accounts at GE Interlogix. He called the use of VCRs a “plague” upon the end user because of the hassles of “constantly changing tapes, trying to remember to put a new tape in and attempting to find a simple incident.” Not to mention the potential for hours of recording time lost each week if you need to review a tape and only have one recorder.

Upon hearing the word “plague,” Scott pulled out pencil and paper and began doodling mock brochure covers: a poison symbol, a red cross and a medicine man. Ideas were batted around until a single thought hung thick in the air as though waiting to be plucked: Present the DVR as the cure for the VCR plague. To illustrate this idea, we used the analogy of the traveling medicine man handing out his bottled cure to heal all ailments.

To relate the medicine bottle to digital recording, we designed a label for our pill bottle that included phrasing similar to what you might find on an old-time pill bottle, but specific to the cures the DVR brings to plagued VCR users.

An analogy between a medicine man’s miracle pills and how the DVR cures the VCR plague” helped promote sales of digital recorders.

To promote the DVR to the sales channel, we chose two different items. First was a brochure focused on 10 end-user benefits such as “Say goodbye to your videotape hassles forever,” “Eliminate day-to-day maintenance costs” and “Make surveillance simple.” Secondly, we chose a Web site specifically focused on the needs of dealers and end users new to digital recording.

Artwork for the two projects included product photographs, screenshots and images of the technology itself, along with artwork pertaining to the “common cure” theme. On the front of the brochure we included a photograph of the pill bottle we created and made sure the label on the bottle could be read. We then took this strong image and carried it through the rest of the promotion.

End-user benefits of digital recorders, artwork of pill bottles and doctor’s notepads communicated the analogy of curing the VCR plague.

The pill bottle was used again inside the brochure, but on its side with pills spilling into the copy. The back page included a prescription pad where a fictitious doctor with the name Nomar Hasslehoff—the most lifelike name we could get to sound like “no more hassles”—prescribed digital video recording. This prescription also suggested dealers and end users visit a Web site specifically designed to educate them on the benefits of digital recording.

After they reviewed the brochure, we asked readers to visit the Web site where more information on the product exists and the same “cure for the common VCR” theme is used.

On the Web site we continued the “cure for the common VCR” theme and included the photograph of the pill bottle. Contents of the site included product literature, application notes, video demonstrations of the products in use and dealer training on how to use the programs. There was also an entire section devoted to "Why Digital?" with magazine articles, case studies, the ability to download the brochure and a form to contact a rep about a DVR.

Mailing the cure
With the brochure and Web site produced, we needed to get the channel excited about selling digital recorders and equip it with the new sales pieces. We chose the most direct route: direct mail, but with a twist. Shawna’s goal was to send out something “spectacular” – something nontraditional that would catch the recipients’ attention and cause them to open the package and read what was inside.

The sales channel was mailed a box containing the new brochure, address of the new Web site, explanation of how these pieces were to be used as sales tools, and a medicine bottle of their own—filled with mints.

Instead of a traditional envelope, we chose to send our promotion in a box. Inside the box we included a letter explaining digital recording as the cure for the common VCR, a copy of the brochure, product literature on the digital recording products and a bottle that looked just like the one on the front of the brochure. On the outside of the box we used the fake prescription from Dr. Nomar Hasslehoff as the address label for each of the boxes.

Did the cure produce positive ROI?
The direct mail piece was sent to 504 GE Interlogix dealers who purchase DVRs through Shawna's sales channel.

The “common cure for the VCR plague” direct mail program increased sales by 130 percent in the three months following the mailing.

In the three months following the direct mail program launch, sales of the product more than doubled from the previous three months. During that same time period, the net profit from the sales increase exceeded the entire cost of the program by 390 percent.

Prior to this dealer mailing, dealer sales were only 10 percent of total sales volume, and corporate accounts made up the other 90 percent. After the mailing it was obvious we had the dealers’ attention, because dealer sales really picked up. Corporate account sales remained stable, but they now account for only 50 percent of total sales. The dealer channel now accounts for a much stronger 50 percent of total sales.

  More Information:  
  Company fact sheet  
  Press releases  
  Articles, presentations, columns  
  Events & promotions