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Pushing the Envelope: Bugging Out over Terminix’s Dimensional Mail Piece


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Going to the Mattresses with Terminix

In July 2010, as many around the country looked on fearfully at news reports about the spread of bugs that feed on the blood of unsuspecting sleepers, Terminix Commercial was looking at an opportunity. Hoping to seize on the growing national interest in the bed bug epidemic, the pest control company created a mailer that would educate top national prospects about bed bugs and position Terminix as the ideal resource for eliminating those and other pests.

The Memphis, Tenn.–based firm mailed 200 miniature mattresses to executives in the hospitality and property management industries. The mailer featured a playful rhyme that had acquired an unsettling ring: “Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”

The theme would surely resonate. The parasites are a constant threat to properties like hotels and apartments because new bugs can arrive in the suitcases or clothes of temporary occupants. There simply aren’t treatments that can keep the irksome critters from moving in like there are for spiders, cockroaches and other pests.

“It’s very frightening for an operator to face that, so the focus has got to be on reducing the impact,” says Joe Finch, director of marketing for pest services at parent company Terminix International. It’s important to identify bed bug activity quickly, to immediately address it, and to get ahead of things before it affects your reputation or revenue, Finch says.

To help general managers and other executives better empower themselves against their tiny enemies, Terminix stuffed eight branded bed bug recognition guides into the mini mattress. These pages — intended to ultimately help in-room staffers — show what the bugs look like, where they dwell and the evidence they leave behind. The last page directs bedbug spotters to alert managers who can call Terminix. “That guide puts our name out there, and it becomes a valuable resource,” Finch says. “And that’s how we want the users to view us as a company.”

Another mattress insert includes a number to call for additional guides or for immediate service. The card also lists some features and benefits of Terminix’s bed bug treatment and provides a phone number and website for those wishing to learn about the company’s other pest solutions.

Terminix actually mentions the free guide in all of its communication efforts, and more than 15,000 properties have ordered the booklet, which is written in both English and Spanish. However, the mattress mailing was designed to go a step further by establishing relationships with key influencers and using a focus on bed bugs as a starting point for discussions about general pest control contracts. Company sales representatives began those conversations in calls to each recipient after the mailer arrived.

So far two major hotel chains have signed service contracts, and three others are in negotiations. The campaign has a positive return on investment, Finch says, and Terminix plans to send another round of mailers to other prospects in the target audience.

The mailing — which cost $18,365 to produce and included an outer white box — “is absolutely an attention-catching tool,” Finch boasts. “[Targets] are bound to open it, and I believe they’re bound to save it as well. It reflects positively on us as a company — our creativity and the professionalism of what we do.”

The Essentials:

Company: Terminix Commercial, a unit of Terminix International (Memphis, Tenn.)

Agency: Publicis Dallas

Target Audience: 200 U.S.-based owners, general managers and other decision makers in the hospitality and property management industries.

Goal: To establish relationships with key influencers and solidify at least one contract.

DM Vehicle: A miniature mattress (11.38 X 6.5 X 2.25 inches) containing eight branded bed bug recognition guides and an insert with a number to call for service or to request additional guides; it also highlights Terminix’s bed bug solution.

Response: Two major hotel chains have signed service contracts and three others are in negotiations.

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