(EDITOR'S NOTE: Mr. Gnam
is a hands-on response marketing consultant whose clients range from
entrepreneurial companies to blue chips. He creates campaigns for a
variety of marketers of products and services. He also writes copy,
designs promotions, and regularly conducts seminars on both basic
and advanced techniques of direct response marketing. He'll be
delighted to follow-up your inquiry with a rapid, personalized
response. He can be reached at 813-407-8400. - Ray Lewis, executive
by Rene Gnam
By now, you
should be on a lot of different lists. When you request information
on a product or service you're interested in, you generally get put
on a list. And your analysis of how hundreds of others who are
responding to information requests follow-up can help you
substantially improve your own follow-up program.
nutshell, whether you're selling improved widgets or magazine
subscriptions, you can borrow techniques for follow-up from a wide
range of marketing operations. Your study of what is mailed to you
in response to your requests for sales literature doubtless will
prove that most marketers make a lot of errors that you should --
and can -- avoid.
But most of
those errors can be summed up in two basic categories:
being of sufficient immediacy.
Not providing enough information.
should be obvious.
information aspect, today, is a vital consideration. In addition to
telling me where and how to go about buying from you or your
distributor or your dealer, recognize that today many decisions are
made by committees. Groups of executives review proposed purchases
in order to control expenses in a tight economy.
Appeal to Decision-Makers
that your mailings must be helpful, informative and
meaningful...from three points of view:
The view of
the purchasing agent who shops for competitive price,
The view of
the ultimate user who shops for performance ease,
The view of
the corporate leader who shops for production gains.
may decide whether to buy your product or service -- and they need a
full-information presentation to help them reach a decision. You
must present your message in a way that leads each of them to
understand it within the framework of his or her particular job
function and particular corporate of institutional role. Each one
must clearly see the benefits of your proposition, your products,
your services, in use at their facility.
wish to not describe every detail in your follow-up mailing, leaving
your salesperson something to present. That doesn't mean that your
mailing can't be exciting, meaningful, helpful and informative.
instance, in a follow-up mailing for minicomputers, you could
deliver vital data on how to compare input and output goals. You
could discuss the relative merits of each model you market. But you
might withhold a method of comparing those models for the inquirer's
particular business, suggesting in an accompanying personalized
letter that the salesperson can better prepare a "customized"
recommendation after visiting to learn the prospect's specific
the salesperson does not have to visit, if a purchasing decision is
to be made based only on information you supply...then, your mailing
must present all necessary facts and product benefits.
instance, except in rare instances, just about any business person
should be able to make a decision about office supplies or
replacement parts without having a salesperson make a presentation
-- once your literature spells out the unique benefits of your
Getting Orders from Sales Lead
direct orders from your sales lead follow-up mailings, consider each
of these important points:
information on how and where to buy the product or sign up for the
Be sure to
enclose a cover letter with your printed literature. The little
printed memos that the forms people sell you are totally
insufficient. Letters work. They also show that you care, and that
you're treating your prospect like an individual worthy of
pretty please, put your home office name, address, and telephone
number on every piece of material in a follow-up mailing, even if
it's all in a presentation folder. Inserts get separated from
office telephone number and/or a '800' IN-WATS number should be
listed prominently in several places, with instructions for the
prospect to call a well-informed contact in your firm. You may
subsequently have your local rep follow-up your mailing with a
telephone contact, but many prospects will want to pick up the phone
immediately to do business.
want them to contact a local rep, or dealer, or distributor, give
them the name and phone number of that person. If you're worried
about turnover in reps or rep personnel, print that data on a
separate enclosure so that you can update it inexpensively.
your prospects is an individual, even when they respond from a
business address. Use personalization where possible. Do not use
carbonized labels. Originals are okay.
mailings probably will work better than just one follow-up. And
maybe you will need more than two, plus telephone follow-ups. Test
photos of your product or service in action. Put appropriate people
in these photos. Don't just send out a 4-color photo of your sheep
dip. Show the prospect how easy it is to use it, with dippers doing
instantly. Insist that your regional people do the same. Don't let
them tell you "I know how to handle these leads." They don't. You
follow-up mailings to business or professional people with
First-Class postage, never Third. Sometimes bulk rate is okay for
consumers, or for some later mailings in a series of business
follow-ups...but never at the beginning. The longer it taker the
inquirer to get your mail, the less likely he or she will be to buy
from you (and the less wonderful they will think you are).
printers are okay for certain pieces in follow-up mail. But please
avoid promotion pieces that look awful because you saved $4/M.
the prospect to another source when you forget to reveal the basic
price of your product or service. Do give at least an inkling of the
price. Then support the reasons why the price is reasonable.
your mailing neatly; don't send a jumble of little papers as you
might in a consumer subscription mailing. You are selling a business
proposition to business-minded people. Your mailing is your
order form. Even if you expect a purchase order or a requisition,
the inclusion of an order form gives a visual command to think about
state clearly that you'll answer any further questions. Many
questions may be answered in your literature, but most people feel
comforted if they know you'll respond when queried.
remind the prospect that you'll be happy to restyle a product, or
create a custom service, for his particular needs. No one likes
strictly "shelf" items. All prospects may buy "shelf" items, but
they want to think that they can get customized units.
Now, take a
look at your current sales lead follow-up mailings...and another
look at those from your competitors and other mailers. Run down the
How do your
mailings stack up? What should you do to revitalize your mailings? A
few dollars invested now can keep paying off for years to come.