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Direct Mail and College Recruitment

Kids born after 1990 aren’t used to getting things addressed to them in the mail.  The time where I have received the most mail in my life was during my junior and senior years of high school.  I wasn’t getting bills yet, I wasn’t getting letters from my great aunt Gertrude and I wasn’t even getting pizza coupons; this uptick in mail came exclusively from colleges trying to woo me.  I remember the first piece of college mail that came addressed to me, my mom was excited to tell me about it, and I was excited thinking that there was a chance they were giving me some special offer.   It turned out this first one was from some college I had never heard of, and they weren’t offering me anything.  Even though I had no intentions of going there, I figured I would read through their material just because they took the time to send it to me.


After that first piece of college mail, it seemed the floodgates had been opened.  Every day I would come home from school to smorgasbord of colorful glossy pamphlets from institutions big and small across the nation.  At first I read every single glossy pamphlet that came to my mailbox, and I started to notice a trend.  Most of these direct mail pieces fell into one of two categories, they either started with a generic question like “where do you want to spend the next four years?” then a pitch for their school, or they #collegemail2had some type of attempt at personalization by using my name.  When the ones with questions came from schools that I had never heard of or had no interest in attending, I couldn’t help but think they sounded desperate and mock them to myself by saying “certainly not there”.  I think @TheRealBerrey said it best (pictured above)  The personalization grabbed my attention at first, but soon the#collegemailcreepypersonalizations with wrong or misspelled names started showing up, a lot of strange and borderline creepy personalized pamphlets showed up (like the one pictured which sgt_fuzzyboots shared on instagram) and I started seeing the same letters in the stacks of glossy pamphlets at my friends’ houses, and the novelty wore off.

Eventually, I had my college search narrowed down to just a few schools.  I asked my mother to save anything from those schools and throw everything else away.  Enamored with the idea of colleges being interested in her baby boy, my mother refused to thrown any of them away and instead created two files, one of schools I was interested in and the other with schools I wasn’t.  #collegemail4The file for schools I was interested in fit neatly in a manila folder, and the one for schools I was not interested in basically made one full room of our house off limits.  This struggle of receiving tons of mail, but not necessarily from the institutions you want is summed up perfectly by this instagram post by kayjdkay (pictured above).



I decided relatively early on where I wanted to go to school.  This decision did nothing to slow the onslaught of direct mail from colleges.  I didn’t look at a single piece of college mail after I had made my decision, and everything that came from any college other than the University of Minnesota went directly into the trash.  Judging by this tweet from @carolinemirah, I’m not the only person who had marketing efforts wasted on them in a similar fashion#collegemail


As I have progressed in my education, these college recruitment campaigns have been something I have thought about.  I think about how much money was wasted by schools sending things to people like me who were not at all interested in their school and probably wouldn’t have been a good fit anyway.  All the time and money that was spent in mailing out things to uninterested people could have been put into making sure that students that were interested and would have been a good fit actually ended up there.  This is exactly the problem that Enrollment Fuel from Bann Business solutions addresses.  With this tool, universities can have a better understanding of how much a student is interested and how well their profile aligns with the school’s mission, Rather than just sending out mass mailto anyone in a certain geographic area or with a certain ACT score.  Using multiple channels and understanding how the student is interacting with all of them to deduce how interested they are is the core of Enrollment Fuel, and Enrollment fuel can help pick the right prospective students in the right areas.

Kelly Services Case Study

Recently, we’ve had the pleasure of helping Kelly Services define their markets. Take a look at the case study to learn more!

Kelly Services Case Study

Paper Webkey Press Release

Trackable digital marketing through paper-based plug-in device

offered by Bridgz Marketing Group, Bann Business Solutions


Plug-in “Connect-to-Web” TM device for USB ports can be packaged in paper flyers, brochures, mailers.


Minneapolis, Minn – June 18th, 2012 – A patent pending “Connect-to-Web” branded device that tracks and measures customer actions can now be delivered in a direct mailer, brochure, magazine insert, or trade show handout through an exclusive distribution agreement announced by Bridgz Marketing Group of Minneapolis and Bann Business Solutions in St. Paul. Once the webkey device is connected to a USB port, the computer’s browser automatically opens to the marketer’s online content: Landing page, e-commerce site, product demo, website, contest page, survey or social media page.

The two marketing services organizations have North American distribution rights for the device, which provides high levels of customer online engagement coupled with comprehensive measurement of those customer interactions.

According to Jim Bergeson, CEO of Bridgz Marketing Group, a BI WORLDWIDE Company, “This device is a thing of beauty for those of us who believe in customer-centric marketing because of its ability to track the precise actions of the people who receive and use it.”

The device plugs into any computer’s USB port, with some important advantages:

  • Packaging in a paper tab that can be spot-glued or inserted into a perforated punch-out in a postcard, flyer or magazine insert, providing an opportunity to brand the plug-in with an organization’s design scheme or logo ;
  • Coding to measure and track the actions of each discreet customer as he or she uses the plug-in to enter a website or landing page;
  • Immediately connecting online to websites, videos, assembly instructions, warranty information, and more;
  • Case studies in other parts of the world indicate an open-and-respond rate far exceeding similar mailings without the device.

Mike Bann, Partner of Bann Business Solutions, says, “Through our packaging technology, marketers now have the opportunity to package a small, thin webkey into a paper ‘handle’ that can become a perforated, punch-out, or glued-in feature of any paper product you can imagine.”

The technology was developed by Intermed Asia Ltd, a Hong Kong-based technology company specializing in advertising and promotional media. The technology has been used most extensively in the pharmaceuticals industry, where seven of the world’s 12 largest manufacturers used it for providing easy-to-access educational content on new drugs for doctors and patients, as well as a means of attracting customers.

Bergeson says, “We’re excited because for each and every recipient of one of these webkeys, we have the capability to measure customers’ interaction with it and we can respond with offers, coupons, or highly relevant information. The capability for data analytics of customer relationships is breathtaking.”

“This takes guesswork out of the performance of direct mail; you can measure your ROI on a real-time basis,” says Bergeson. “Gone are the days of hoping that a prospective customer will remember to use the URL in a direct mailer or ad. Because the customer is allured by the webkey , now we’ll know exactly how deeply they interact with the information, which sets the table for the next level of communication.”

Bann says marketers have dozens of applications for this trackable technology, including handing out trade show information in the form of a business card containing the webkey, achieving higher response rates on mailed client satisfaction surveys, improving warranty registrations with new products, or digital connections from sales brochures.


Bridgz Marketing Group, based in Minneapolis, creates customer-centric marketing strategies and campaigns for its clients.  Bridgz is a BI WORLDWIDE company and a member of the ICOM global network of independent advertising and marketing communications companies spanning more than 50 countries.  More at

St. Paul-based Bann Business Solutions is a provider of integrated marketing, print, promotional and office products. More at


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