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Relational Marketing Done Right – NewPage

August 16, 2012

If you talk to me at all, or you read this blog, you’ll know that I usually gripe about how this company or that company isn’t leveraging digital print, or cross-media potential or is doing a pretty poor job of representing themselves through relational marketing.

So today, I wanted to show that some companies do it right. Case in point: NewPage.

I met the NewPage representative, Mary-Lou Cassidy at the Infoquest Toronto event where I was one of the guest speakers. I talked about relational marketing. We exchanged business cards. I really didn’t think much more about it. She was nice, and had interesting questions but, as a speaker, I handed out a lot of cards that day and when I came home and put them all into Outlook, I hesitated wondering whether I should keep her card. I didn’t.

You see, I work at a relational marketing agency. When we do print campaigns for our clients we rarely give paper a second thought. Most of the time the printer tells us what their choices are, and the rest of the time the client gives us a set of requirements, or occasionally the brand and type of paper to use. We don’t make those decisions most of the time; it’s out of our hands. So, not much point keeping the card.

Over the next few weeks she connected to me on LinkedIn, sent me an email with a link to a video by YouSendIt. I didn’t watch it. She also sent me a package of papers and information. I filed it away.

A few weeks later I got a direct mail piece. Very traditional looking, a postcard with an address block. I looked it over, and threw it out.

Then this:

A self mailer, with the NewPage logo, and a curtain. Neat. So I opened it, because, obviously, you have to, when someone sends you a curtain.

You can’t really see it very well in this light and with my crappy iPhone picture, but it’s my name in huge letters, which is a bit cheesy, and just a teaser text that basically says “We’re sending you something, so check your mail.” Despite the fact that I work in a relational marketing agency that uses this very technique I was pretty cavalier about it. “You did send me something. Just now. Duh! Why didn’t you just say what you had to say?” Yes, I’m flippant even in my head.

I threw it out in my recycling bin. A few days passed by and nothing in the mail. I forgot all about it. Then a couple of days ago I found myself wondering if I would ever get whatever mailing I was going to receive from NewPage.

Today when I received the mailpiece I found I couldn’t wait to open it and, I have to say, I was not disappointed.

The actual piece was a folded, digitally printed and personalized card inserted in an envelope:

The colours are bright, digitally printed, of course, personalized; it’s a stunning piece, visually, and contrasting completely with everything they’ve sent me so far. I find myself thinking “That’s pretty awesome” and I haven’t even flipped it open yet.

Inside it’s more sober, and the business message is that you can get great paper at regular prices, and there’s no good reason not to. Fair enough.

But there’s more. There’s a QR code, so I scan it with my phone, and it takes me to a personalized mobile page, which I thought was very cool, with a video link.

I didn’t want to watch the video on the tiny screen. I’m really going to need glasses, dammit. Besides, I was still standing in the hallway at this point. That’s right. I spent the whole time on my feet reading this mailer over the recycling bin, expecting to throw it out any second… and didn’t.

And now, because this mailing leveraged the relational marketing methods that I’m always on about, I was taking it back to my desk. I sat down, read it over again, and then entered the PURL into my computer’s browser. To my surprise, and great satisfaction, it was a completely different layout.

They had even done this part right. One layout for the computer, another one for the mobile device, both necessary if you’re targeting both mobiles and regular desktops.

I watched the video which reprised the main points of the mailer, with some nice graphics and well narrated, and drove home the point that it’s great paper at the same price, basically an upgrade for no extra cost, which convinced me that if I ever do have the opportunity to talk about paper, I’ll be sure to mention Sterling Premium as an option.

I went back to the recycling bin and rummaged around in there, suddenly happy that the cleaning company I’ve been bitching about, charged with keeping our offices clean has not shown up in 3 weeks and found that the teaser was still there. Since they’re both printed on the Sterling Premium paper, I’ll be keeping these as samples to show our prospective customers the quality of the product. I downloaded the video she sent me a month ago and watched that too. Now my interactions with NewPage are an experience, not an onslaught.

Next: Personalised email

In keeping with the visual aspect of the campaign, the follow-up email isn’t just another reminder to watch the video and find out more about Sterling Premium paper. It’s a reminder that there are prizes to be won. Focusing on this aspect makes the email more welcome than if it was another reminder of everything I’ve been told up to this point.

Then, a very attractive gift box with the NewPage colors arrived with

Inside a t-shirt and a personalised card reminder, with Mary-Lou’s contact information. The box and card, printed on some of the most gorgeous paper I’ve ever seen, leaves little doubt about the quality of the product.

It’s an awesome package. The t-shirt is besides the point.

I’ll be letting Mary-Lou Cassidy know that the NewPage relational marketing campaign was good. Really good.

So, as NewPage says in their ads “it will shift everything”. They mean Sterling Premium paper. The paper’s good, but I mean the cross-media relational marketing done well.

Bravo, NewPage.

If you’re not one of the lucky ones targeted by this campaign, you can at least check out the online portion of the campaign here:

The folks responsible for this winning cross-media campaign are:


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    Aaron Haas Aug 16, 2012

    Thanks for the kind words, I work in the NP marketing dept. You will be receiving another element of the campaign shortly. If you would like to know some of the creative partners who worked with us on this, feel free to shoot me out a note.

      Alex Nuta Aug 16, 2012

      I look forward to it, Aaron.
      This has been a great experience so far. I’ll update the post when I receive the next element.

    Michelle Garrett Aug 17, 2012

    Hi Alex, thanks for taking note of our campaign…it is a real first for us, as a paper company to use all the elements of cross-media, or “relational” marketing. I work with Mary Lou, as her emerging technology resource, and it is really really good to find you are enjoying the campaign! I hope to meet you in the real September 18; by then, you should see a few more surprises come your way! Keep up the great work…and BTW, you just garnered another blog follower!

      Alex Nuta Aug 17, 2012

      Thanks for the comment, Michelle.
      I can tell you I was very surprised that a paper company would even consider a cross-media campaign like this. It is, however, the reality of today that email, web, paper and even SMS have to work together to create an experience that a prospect can relate to in a positive way, and ultimately take the message to heart. The marketing folks at NewPage deserve credit for stepping out of line from other paper companies and embracing the change and this reality. Also, you deserve credit, in no small measure, for engineering this Sterling Premium paper.
      Paper is still a very relevant and successful communication medium, and today, with digital printing, it can be just as relevant to the recipient and just as impactful as any other communication, in addition to the experiential value added by its tactile nature.
      Obviously I’d have to see pricing on it to see that it does indeed live up to the promise of a “number one paper at a number two price”, but I can tell you already, there’s nothing “number two” about the quality of this paper.

      I’m not aware of an event on September 18, however, so it’s not likely that we can meet, sadly.
      Keep up the good work, though, and congratulations on an excellent cross-media campaign, again.


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