Direct Mail – The comeback kid?

February 27, 2012 — Leave a comment

Part 3 of: B2B Marketing – four creative opportunities for 2012

Here’s a turn up for the books: during 2011, we got some very good results* from good old-fashioned, big-box, dimensional, high value direct mail. We followed a lot of the old-school discipline, including ruthless segmentation to keep the mailing list as short as possible, clear call to action and high perceived value of the DM piece itself. But we also discovered why Direct Mail is now the digital marketer’s secret weapon.

But first, here are some simple truths about DM, and they are as as truthy now as they ever were:

1. Nothing is as important as the list: do your research; do your due diligence; check all the names; check the spelling; do some propensity modelling; do some pre-campaign opt-in work; don’t just buy a list; and the list (see what I did there) goes on and on.

2. Watch the budget: Although this sort of material can be very expensive to produce per piece – particularly if you are building something bespoke, printing your own boxes or having an item properly branded or personalised – the total campaign costs can be brought under control by limiting the list to truly high-value, high-propensity prospects. Don’t skimp on delivery – courier or hand is usually worth the extra investment. Also, get yourself on the seed list so you can experience the delivery process first-hand.

3. Three Dimensional value, not 3D puns: for a creative, the real joy in this kind of marketing is working out how you’re going to spend a hundred bucks per pack on your idea. Just make sure that the audience can see where the money went as well. Don’t send them a hand-carved hour-glass to tell them “time is running out”. A headline and a stock shot could do that job, on a 90-cent postcard. Good DM follows the same reach & frequency model as media, except the target’s desk is the media space, the number of office colleagues who notice it is the reach and the number of days before it gets binned is the frequency.

4. Offer up: If you are going to the trouble of putting together a high value pack, make sure the offer or the follow up is also of value. Don’t use it just to drive to the same, publicly-available, easily-googled web page that anyone else could get to. Try to ensure that the human element (a follow-up call, a sales visit) is introduced to the contact strategy very quickly after the pack lands, or the impact (and connection to your brand) may be lost.

5. Watch the time: these packs generally take a long time to produce and, towards the end of the process, everyone is keen to simply ship the bloody thing and be done with it, particularly if it has taken longer and cost more than initially scoped. Wait.  The B2B calendar moves to it’s own rhythm, and there are definite no-send zones, some unique to certain industries: the lead-up to major holidays; end of quarter; end of financial year; stocktake periods; reporting season; the introduction of new legislation, regulation or compliance; major sporting events (eg: rugby world cup and investment banking).

Keep these factors in mind and you can dramatically improve your DM response rates. If you’ve got the list right, you should see ROI that will make the average email campaign weep. Speaking of email, here’s the secret behind DM’s new-found old-school B2B success:

Everybody’s office inbox is rammed full of crap, but their letterboxes are wide open for business.

 

Next up: social media is used to the spotlight, is it ready for the spreadsheet?

Missed the earlier parts of the series?

Part 1: See why Content is the kingmaker, not the king>

Part 2: Platform thinking sees creativity and automation software on the same page>

* In the spirit of full disclosure, it’s fair to say we got some pretty poor results as well. But at least we know why. Test, learn optimise, right?

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