Henderson Robb Marketing has created many award-winning direct response campaigns in our history. When we began to focus more on direct mail strategies for B2B clients we created our campaigns with similar disciplines as those we employed in traditional marketing for the consumer space. There are, of course, overall differences between the two disciplines that need to be considered, (i.e. group/committee buying decision-making, in B2B compared to single person decision-making in B2C), but when you get to the heart of it, the similarities are obvious to us.
- State your objective: in general, we agree on one objective per mailing/and/or delivery. This is the first thing we counsel our clients on. If we are trying to generate leads, cross-sell to existing customers, or otherwise retain them, we need to agree on this before we develop any creative. Any direct marketing advantages or disadvantages have to be measured against this objective first in order to have an effective campaign.
- Know your audience: Ask any direct marketing companies you are considering and they should tell you that aligning with your objective, knowing your target market is mandatory for any direct campaign. We use market intelligence to understand what type of potential customer makes up your target audience, and develop our communications accordingly. We need consensus on whether we are targeting in-house prospects, or a mailing list of current or inactive customers. Senior VPs or CEOs? We want to make sure all of our mailers are addressed properly, and include as much personalization as possible.
- Create compelling messaging and offers: Why should I buy your product or service, let alone respond? Aside from any level of personalization, which can only increase response, compelling content begins with developing a unique selling proposition (USP) that speaks to your target audience or buyer persona. To us, a successful USP is one that promises to solve a problem and makes life better, easier, or otherwise addresses the “what’s in it for me” question from your target audience. For most products and services, a compelling USP will only generate so much response, so we identify any number of CTAs (Calls-to-Action) that we can tie to into your campaign. We make sure that your CTAs are relevant to the customer relationship and continually tested. If your marketing plan will now allow for big-ticket items, free trials or even introductory discounts, think about free information or content downloads you can offer (we have had particular success with this approach in database marketing for B2B).
- Make it easy to respond: Once we have created a perfectly clear CTA that specifies how your brand would like the target to respond, we give them as many options for responding as appropriate: a toll-free number, postage-paid envelope or postcard, customized URL, etc. A long time ago, direct marketing companies frowned on offering multiple response mechanism, but times have changed; prospects expect a choice, and not having a preferred response channel could decrease response. Now, if there is anything else we can do to make it easy for your prospect/customer to respond, we do it.
- Maintain continuity: Regardless of your business, we believe that you must extend consistent brand identity (messaging, logo, design etc.) across all channels, and creating digital marketing strategies is no different. Oftentimes, our direct marketing will overlap with another campaign channel. We know from years of experience that the cumulative effect of multiple campaigns, over time, can lead to increased brand recognition and recall. If we are consistent with how we present your brand identity we can make a positive impact on your response and your brand awareness.
- Test, test, and test again: If we can think of a variable, we think it may be worth testing. We often recommend A/B splits and 2X2 testing in our direct marketing campaigns, and include examining such things as the creative, the content, the offer, the list, etc. However, before we begin, we make sure we know how much response we need to break even, and make sure the sample size of our test groups are large enough to yield statistically significant results. That is what direct marketing companies are supposed to do for their clients. With B2B direct marketing, Henderson Robb understands that the reality is that we’re often dealing with a universe of under 10,000, so statistically significant isn’t achievable, and therefore can’t be guaranteed to perform the same if we roll it out. In cases like these we have to be much more selective about what to test, and be frugal with our split if we want to successfully manage direct marketing advantages and disadvantages.