How Ribble Packaging generated an extra £1 million revenue through direct marketing

Discover how a rebrand and innovative direct mail campaign helped the packaging and cardboard box manufacturer win two new clients worth £1 million a year in new revenue

The challenge

Ribble has been in business for around 80 years, over which time the market for cardboard boxes has been relatively stable. 

“Those that buy from us know us already, and we know them, so we’ve never really had to do any marketing before,” says Katy Rector, marketing manager at Ribble Packaging. “What’s changed is that the competition in the corrugated market has driven margins down, and we needed a way to differentiate ourselves in the UK market. We didn’t just want to be seen as a brown box manufacturer.”

The company also had two new services it wanted to make potential prospects aware of. It wanted to raise awareness of these, as well as developing a more cohesive brand to show all three solutions were part of the same company.

Ribble Automate is a service where business can purchase a machine that will allow them to produce bespoke cardboard boxes for their products on site. This cuts retailer's costs and improves efficiency. Ribble benefits by providing the cardboard to use in the machines.

Ribble Restore capitalises on the growth of internet retail and ecommerce. When a customer returns an unwanted product, the box is often damaged, meaning the retailer has to discount it even if the product itself is undamaged. Ribble takes these returns back from the retailer, checks the products are fine, then creates a brand new box allowing the retailer to sell as new.

Creative and messaging

Developing a new brand was the starting point, to provide customers with a consistent, cohesive and clear message.

“How can you sell something that nobody knows about? You can’t, so we had to invest in rebranding,” says Rector. “With the different business streams it was getting very difficult to explain what they all are – that it all comes from one company. We’ve now got a much more cohesive brand.”

Ribble engaged agency LeftMedia to establish the new brand, which simplified it while incorporating the different business streams, together with a nod to the company’s box-making heritage.

New Ribble branding

The second element was a DM (direct mail) campaign targeted at multiple decision-makers (including managing directors, operations directors and purchasing directors) at around 20 prospect companies. Prospecting was crucial to the success of the project, says Rector. “The DM can be amazing but if they don’t have the issue it’s not going to work. That’s something we spent a lot of time on to make sure we had the right target audience."

The campaign ran in three phases. First, targets were sent a personalised teaser card, printed on Ribble corrugated board, which identified painpoints and introduced the company. For the second phase, prospects were sent a large bespoke box. Inside the box were two smaller boxes, one of which was squashed (Rector’s handiwork at home with a rolling pin “beating up boxes to make them look they had been returned”.) 

Then, a week later there was a follow-up card reinforcing the message (pictured below) accompanied by a call from the sales team. "Prior to the call day we’d had two or three enquiries off the back of the campaign, that I was not expecting at all, as we’d never done this before," adds Rector.

Ribble DM

Results and measurement

The DM campaign took around a month-and-a-half from launch to execution.

As a result it has brought in:

  • A 40-50% response rate from the DM
  • Two new customers, worth around £1 million a year in additional revenue on five and eight-year contracts respectively.
  • A further four potential sales in the pipeline.

DM might be seen as a little old-fashioned, but Ribble’s results demonstrate the impact a well-planned and well-executed campaign can have, even for firms with not traditionally geared up to marketing.