| 14 February, 2020

Why We Still Love Lumpy Campaigns


The lumpy campaign is an old-school Trekk marketing strategy, dating back to when we first opened our doors in the mid-1990s. Back then, before digital advertising had yet to really take off, our clients were facing a very particular challenge: their top prospects were drowning in a deluge of direct mail. Our job? To help them cut through all that print clutter. Enter the lumpy.

What’s a Lumpy?

It’s exactly what it sounds like: a lumpy piece of mail designed to stand out from the crowd of plain, flat envelopes and postcards that decision makers receive every day. 

But it’s also more than that. A good lumpy campaign starts with a big, creative gesture, usually a physical object that makes the recipient feel like they’ve been sent a surprise gift. We follow this up with multiple touchpoints that build upon the creative messaging of the first special delivery, all with the goal of securing a sales meeting. 

How Lumpies Stand Out

In order to really drive action, a lumpy campaign often involves a missing element, along with a message encouraging the prospect to complete the picture by taking a meeting. For example, once we sent a Scrabble game missing all the T, R, E, and K tiles (you can’t compete without Trekk!). More recently, we sent top prospects a travel-sized Lite Brite with our logo already created and the pattern and pegs needed to create their own. 

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A particularly memorable lumpy that Trekk designed was for a nationwide flooring co-op. This was at a time when Lowes and Home Depot had been steadily gaining market share in flooring. We sent Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots to 100 key prospects who owned independent flooring stores. The message: “We can help you knock out the big box stores!” The lumpy included a date and time to expect a call from our client, and when they followed up via phone they found the majority of the prospects were so surprised and delighted that they were happy to take the call just to find out more.

Lumpy Robots

The Multi-Channel Lumpy 

An effective lumpy is simply the first touchpoint in a strategic, cohesive campaign. Back in the 90s, these additional touchpoints were usually more direct mail pieces, but now our lumpy campaigns are multi-channel thanks to marketing automation and LinkedIn messaging. 

No matter what, lumpies are a collaboration between marketing and sales. Marketing’s creativity will ideally result in a sales conversation, and both teams need to tell the same brand story. For this reason, we often develop sales scripts as part of our lumpy campaigns to ensure that sales and marketing are aligned.

For those doing account-based marketing, tiered lumpy campaigns are an option. You might send a premium item to the top decision maker at your target organization and then send additional collateral to a second tier of influencers within the company to create some additional buzz. 

How to Execute a Lumpy Campaign

First, identify your top 10-50 ideal clients and do your research to find the right decision maker within each organization. Because lumpies involve premium items, these campaigns are a greater per-recipient investment than a typical direct mail campaign, so choose prospects that have the potential to become high-value customers.

Next, focus on your story. Do you want to communicate expertise, innovation, how your product portfolio meets the prospect’s needs, or something else? Start with your message before you decide what to send. 

Now it’s time to get creative. Choose a physical object that helps tell your story and craft your campaign content around it.  

Then, map out your campaign. Some prospects may ask for a meeting based on the lumpy alone. For those who don’t, map out your multi-channel follow-up touchpoints.  

Finally, send a few lumpies at a time. Lumpy campaigns are nimble and leave a lot of room for testing. Send three to five at a time and see what kind of response you get. Figure out what’s working and adapt as you go. 

Why Lumpies Still Work

Marketers are looking for ways to start real conversations, tell stories, and create lasting brand impressions, but prospects are inundated with emails, push notifications, social media mentions — not to mention spam. Decision makers have been forced to adapt, in many cases ignoring digital messages from outside their own organizations or networks. And if you think you’re getting past the gatekeeper with a cold call, forget about it.  

All of this makes the lumpy more relevant than ever. In our uber-connected world, a special delivery package that delivers a thoughtful story invites the recipient to slow down and take notice. 

A version of this article originally appeared in Canvas Magazine.

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