Reprinted from Contemporary Advertising

Rene Gnam's Direct Mail Techniques Achieve
High Sales When Targeting Business Audiences

by Courtland Bove�

"When an advertising newcomer looks at Direct Mail, his first thought is consumer advertising," says consultant Rene Gnam, "because he's accustomed to seeing lavish promotions at home. But the biggest Direct Mail growth area is in business-to-business marketing."

Gnam initiates many response innovations and is a leading authority on the science of Direct Mail testing and the art of structuring persuasive copy and design for business and consumer markets. He appeared before the U.S. House of Representatives eight times as an expert on business mail, has been the marketing consultant to the Library of Congress, the New York Republican Committee, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and was a major mailing list provider to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush.

He cites the numbers reported by Dun's Marketing Services: "of 297 office equipment manufacturers, 60% increased their Direct Mail use, 89% always use Direct Mail for new product announcements, and 68% sell their products directly by mail. The median number of mailings for those companies is 10 per year and Direct Mail represents about 18.4% of their total ad budget."

Increasing Direct Mail Use For Business-to-Business

Gnam says Direct Mail is earning this increasing receptivity in business markets because it:

  1. helps cut down on unscheduled sales calls,

  2. brings information to re-study,

  3. helps circulate information to other employees, and

  4. brings news of products and services, news that is vitally needed as a firm seeks to control costs while hiking production.

Gnam, who helped the U.S. Postal Service author regulations on Zip Code, says Direct Mail Marketing is infrequently practiced by kitchen-table operators hoping to make a fortune by opening envelopes, but rather "it's a savvy business endeavor practiced by some of the world's largest corporations", including IBM, A T & T, and "all the generals": General Electric, General Mills, General Motors and General Telephone.

Direct Mail Warms Up Prospects for Salespeople

He praises Direct Mail's ability to inform, educate and persuade prospects who are inaccessible to salespeople. "Your Direct Mail supports the sales staff by warming up prospects before a call," he says.

"You may think your company is too small to compete with a giant like Exxon or U. S. Steel," Gnam says, "but not if you use Direct Mail." He knows Direct Mail Marketing "lets the little guy tackle Goliath," and he offers this case history of how one small division of a giant corporation used mail advertising to establish a solid marketing base:

Norelco Lighting Supply Company is a division of the giant Norelco known for coffee makers, hair dryers and shavers.

Westinghouse sells light bulbs. General Electric sells them and so does GTE-Sylvania, but few Americans knew Norelco sells them, despite Norelco's world-wide position of being the #1 manufacturer of lighting.

How Direct Mail by Gnam Made Money for Norelco

In May 1979, Norelco Lighting had just one USA salesman and a savvy marketing manager who came to Gnam to give Norelco a better U.S. share of market. For New Jersey based Norelco, Gnam did three mailings from Florida.

MAILING #1, to North Carolina, was just a test to see if mailings could work. It produced only 39 leads from 16,000 pieces mailed, but 20 of those business leads became customers, better than 50% conversion to sales, with each sale worth $800 to $4,000 revenue PER YEAR, or a total of $16,000 - $80,000 A YEAR.

MAILING #2, to Michigan, produced 48 customers for revenues of $38,400 - $192,000 PER YEAR on flourescent bulbs.

Nine months later, in February 1980, management hired a national sales manager, salespeople in two cities, and a staff copywriter to create more mailings.

MAILING #3 went to eight states. Expansion plans were then made for 30 states. By June 1980, within just 12 months, Norelco Lighting had become a multi-million-dollar business in the USA, selling many thousands of fluorescent bulbs at $1.30 each and incandescent bulbs (the kind you screw in your lamps) at 45c each.

"Perhaps your product sells for more than 45c or $1.30," Gnam chuckles, noting that Norelco Lighting now sells throughout the United States.

"Direct Mail," Rene Gnam says, "is a reliable source of revenue once your customer base has been clearly identified and once you have proven offers to make to that base."


Rene Gnam is an independent response marketing consultant

specializing in creative advertising techniques.

He can be reached at 813-407-8400


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Rene Gnam is a Marketing Consultant and Advertising Copywriter

logo for Rene Gnam

I'm usually in Florida, and here are the numbers:

FAX 813-475-4354      CELL 813-407-8400

You can reach me right now by e-mail:


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