To get to know the people who ultimately use its products, Pro-Mark, a premier drumstick maker in Houston, made its magazine advertising more interactive by offering free product samples in return for customer feedback. The first campaign generated more than 3,000 responses. The respondents' names were entered into a database, and each received a catalog in addition to the sample drumsticks. The new test marketers have proved to be conscientious reviewers. For example, when Pro-Mark recently tested a new finish, it sent samples to 125 drummers, and only one failed to return the detailed questionnaire. For the first two years of the project, the company boasted a 100% response rate.

Another ad announced a contest for the "Not-Yet-Famous Drummer." Readers sent in photos of themselves along with a survey card, indicating preferences in drumsticks, music styles, and bands--information that helps the company target future promotions. Pro-Mark doubled its database as 5,000 people entered the contest, and photos of the winners appeared in subsequent ads.

The company also added another 3,500 names to its list by having coupons double as raffle tickets. In addition to getting a pair of sticks for $5, readers became eligible to win a chance to hang out with Dave Abbruzzese, the former Pearl Jam drummer.

Copyright 1998 G+J USA Publishing