Taking Innovation to the MAXIs
Attending this year’s sold-out Bridge to Integrated Marketing and Fundraising Conference (“Bridge”) was refreshing on every level — educational sessions, exhibitors, etc. But then there was the moment we had all been waiting for (drumroll, please): the MAXI Awards. The MAXIs honor the best-of-the-best formats and packages that not only wowed a panel of preconference judges, but also had accompanying significant return on investment in order to compete. In other words, a MAXI award winner is not just another pretty face — it has brains, as well.
So what kind of direct-marketing trends made their mark on the MAXIs this year?
The first winning strategic use of a “sound card” that got my attention was back in the 2008 presidential campaign. I attended a presentation by Blue State Digital of “campaign lessons learned,” and although the focus was digital, as in e-mail, BSD revealed a direct-mail piece that really piqued the interest of the audience. It was a “voice chip” card with a 15- to 20-second speech by then presidential candidate Barack Obama. (That mailing won Package of the Year in FundRaising Success’ 2009 Gold Awards for Fundraising Excellence.)
Post-event, a bit of additional research revealed a very expensive product, but I kept it on the forefront on my list of innovative applications. Fast-forward to the 2011 MAXI Awards, and it was not surprising that a sound card incorporated into the Roaring Crowd Tube Mailer for the Washington Wizards, produced by Silver Marketing Inc., won a 2011 MAXI Big Idea platinum award for its success.
So it again wasn’t surprising when at the 2013 awards, the St. Labre Indian School Singing Christmas Card took high honors, winning the Big Idea platinum designation. It also won gold in the Nonprofit Renewal category. The format also won accolades for its envelope — light blue, invitation size with a handwritten font and a return address label.