Don’t Get Lost in the Details

By M.H. (Mac) McIntosh, sales-lead-experts.com

It's the list, the offer and the results that make a successful direct mail campaign.

It seems that we business-to-business marketers too often get caught up in the details of direct mail marketing, rather than concentrating on the things that are most important: the list, the offer and the results.

One client, for example, was worrying about whether it was better to use gray paper or white for his direct mail campaign. It doesn't matter what color paper you use—if you're mailing to the wrong people with the wrong offer, your campaign is going to bomb, period.

For example, try sending a mailing about graphic design software to chief financial officers. Or sending a mailing about financial forecasting software to design professionals. No matter how good the direct mail marketing offers are, you're betting against yourself with regard to generating sales leads or orders.

When planning a direct mail campaign, first determine your objective: are you trying to generate leads? to move prospects along the buying cycle? Your letter and offer should support your objective.

The next step is to consider your direct mail marketing list. When choosing a list, focus on such important things as results instead of worrying about less important details such as undeliverables.

Another client of mine was concerned by the high percentage of undeliverables from a direct mail marketing mailing list she rented. She was seriously considering not using the list again because of it. However, when I reviewed the overall results, it was clear that that same mailing list generated more leads and sales than any of the other lists she tested, resulting in the best overall return on investment. When considered from that perspective, the list was a real winner.

The best way to boost direct mail response is to have a strong offer—that is, a targeted offer that will entice prospects to respond. Don't make the mistake of offering something "cool" like an iPod. Yes, you'll get a high response rate, but those responses will be from people who want an iPod, not from people who want your product or service.

In B-to-B, educational direct mail marketing offers work well for getting people to "raise their hands" and express interest. These types of direct mail marketing offers include how-to guides, buying guides, reports, white papers, articles, case studies and invitations to events (e.g., webinars, presentations, seminars).

Make it easy for people to respond to your offer. Your response form should include the various ways people can obtain the offer (e.g., fax, Web URL, e-mail or toll-free number), and your form should include questions that elicit the information you need to determine whether the respondent fits your definition of a qualified lead. (Don't ask too many questions, however. Remember, people don't want to be asked to marry you on the first date.)

Successful direct mail marketers understand that campaign success relies on the list and the offer. Determine why you're mailing to people, and then ensure that your list and offer support your objective. Your response rate will be much higher in terms of "qualified" inquiries.

M. H. (Mac) McIntosh is a business-to-business lead generation and marketing consultant who specializes in helping companies create demand, generate leads and close more sales using the latest B2B marketing strategies, tactics, technology and media. Please visit www.sales-lead-experts.com for more information.

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