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Drumming Up Leads with Dimensional Mailers.

The best thing about a small target of high-potential customers is that you can afford to spend more money on them. In fact, you better, because everyone else is trying to reach them too. If you don’t have something different to say, and a different way of presenting yourself, you’ll get quickly tossed aside.

That’s why elusive, premium prospects are perfect candidates for three-dimensional packages. So put on your creative hat for a few minutes, and let’s look at how you can make dimensional packages pay off for you.

Why Dimensional Packages Work.

One of the big challenges in moving up the prospect food chain is getting your marketing materials past the admin-assistant gatekeepers. The odds of a postcard or self-mailer making the cut are pretty slim. And electronic alternatives such as email are almost unthinkable unless you’ve established a personal relationship.

What you need is a package that looks personal and stands out from everything else that hits an executive’s desk—or tries to. A box, a tube or other dimensional package that comes personally addressed to the executive, along with a really good headline, is very likely going to get opened. Human curiosity gets the best of all of us, no matter what position we hold. And everyone likes something that seems like a present.

So How Can You Miss?

Easily. Dimensional packages might seem like no brainers (How can you fail with a cushy budget, right?) but just the opposite is true. They need lots of thought and solid creativity to work effectively. To avoid a disaster, let’s look at the two main ways that marketers bring dimensional doom upon themselves:

  • Getting caught up in clever. Your dimensional campaign can go down the tubes (no pun intended) just like the entertaining TV commercials that people like but then don’t buy the product. Remember that there’s a business point to be made, and it can’t get totally lost in the fun.

    None the less, a dimensional mailer is a big opportunity to be creative. Just remember that you still need to make a case for people wanting to do business with you.

  • Coming across as a bribe. This can be a really fine and dangerous line, but error on the side of caution. My personal guideline is $25. As soon as someone perceives the contents to be inappropriately expensive for a promotion, you’re in trouble. Sometimes it’s best to stick with things that relate directly to your business.

    For example, I did a dimensional package for a major printer that wanted to reach marketing executives in different sectors. The campaign was multi-stage and went out during the summer with a “grilling” theme. Sales reps got to pick a certain number of prospects that were high potential but contact resistant. Here’s how the program worked:

    • Prospects received three envelope mailings over a short period of time with each consisting of a personalized letter and a one-page case history appropriate to the market and service being promoted. The mailings also included a favorite grill recipe from an executive at the printing company, including a picture of the person and a little personal history behind the recipe.
    • The final mailing came in a box set and included the popular How to Grill cookbook by Steven Raichlen, a product the printer also happened to print and distribute for its publisher client. So the campaign offered a little fun, came across as executive-to-executive and included a useful tie-in premium that demonstrated the printer’s capability. It also was dynamite at getting the attention of difficult-to-reach executives without overstepping the gift-value component.

Are Dimensional Mailers Strictly for Business-to-Business?

Most are, but that’s primarily a function of being able to more easily whittle down your target in the business sector. But again, dimensional mailers are all about creativity, so don’t necessarily think they’re out of the question if you’re in the consumer space.

A quick simple example is the Republic of Tea catalog, which always includes (or at least mine does) a sample tea packet attached to the cover. It gives the catalog a third dimension, puts it at the top of the pile and gets people to try teas they might never have bought otherwise.

Companies with high-ticket products are also obvious candidates. Manufacturers of luxury automobiles and other premium products can afford to spend more on customer acquisition and have smaller target audiences.

The Time for Dimensional Packages Has Never Been Better?

Although it might sound contradictory, slow economies are ideal for dimensional packages. They force you to do the all-important database work and follow up, help you stand out even more as companies cut back on marketing expenditures and tend to have much higher ROI than conventional direct mail and other marketing efforts.

So start working on that creative brief today.

By Larry Bauer

Want Expert Advice?

MondoVox Creative Group can help you develop dimensional packages that result in sales more ROI. For more information, email Julia Moran Martz.

You can connect with Julia Moran Martz on LinkedIn. Or follow her on Twitter.

Do’s and Don’ts of Dimensional Packages.

You can create a buzz with dimensional packages, to say nothing of generating valuable leads. Here’s how to ensure that recipients will not only open your dimensional package, but will open it first.

Do

  • Put something inside that is valuable, fun—or preferably both.
  • Make the sales message simple, to the point and easy to find.
  • Use a parcel delivery service rather than the USPS, if possible.
  • Tie the contents into what you are selling, though you don’t always need to be literal—copy can make a strong tie-in.
  • Use a standard size box if you want to minimize costs.
  • Think beyond paperboard if you have the budget and really want to stand out—try wood or fabric, for instance.
  • Incorporate other channels—a pURL or a QR Code on an enclosure can add more involvement and personalization.
  • Demand accountability from the sales force—involve them as much as possible.

Don’t

  • Use a dimensional package with the intention of closing a sale—it’s a lead generator.
  • Make the contents so expensive they look like a bribe, though you can get by with a bit more if your target is owners of independent businesses.
  • Think that boxes are your only alternative—tubes as well as lumpy mailings or sturdy, gusseted envelopes can also work.
  • Get lost in cleverness at the expense of an action-generating message.
  • Do anything that would make your package look potentially dangerous or prankish.
  • Forget to use a stringent pre-qualification process—dimensional mailers are too expensive to waste.
  • Send more mailers than your team can follow-up with promptly.

By Larry Bauer

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Creating Clutter Busting Dimensional Direct Mail.

I know it sometimes seems that you have to do something REALLY BIG to break through the mailroom clutter. But honestly, size doesn’t matter. You don’t need to build a Taj Mahal for your prospects. Even those C-level folks.

What you MUST do is make sure your mailing’s message supports your goals and is relevant to your target market. And above all, match the quality of your 3D object to your brand.

For example, if your key marketing message is about protecting your clients, don’t mail something like the cheapest umbrella that’s going to break after the third or fifth use. That will reflect poorly on your key brand message. Likewise, don’t overshoot your brand. Sending out gold-plated key fobs could be perceived as bribery if your brand is all about affordable office supplies, for instance.

The best way to start is with your creative brief: define your goals and targets, and THEN your message will naturally follow. Assuming you’ve written your creative brief, here are some examples of 3D mailing types to get your creative juices flowing.

3D Campaign Types.

I categorize 3D mailings into three types:

1. The fun gadget:

Stromberg Allen direct mail series: Even though Stromberg Allen gained approved vendor status with several new clients, they still needed to snag the attention of the clients’ internal buyers. As a printer of K-12 learning tools, they have the capability to produce very complex dimensional products using many components, and they wanted to demonstrate this expertise. We created a campaign of four boxed items that displayed their ability to produce fun, yet educational tools by marrying a gadget with a marketing message and booklets inside the boxes. The sales team then received instructions to send these to their specific targets one week apart until they snagged a meeting. Without sales’ cooperation and follow through, an expensive campaign like this would be wasted. Be sure to train your entire team before implementation of any campaign.

Benefit Downside
Fun to receive; if done right, can be memorable AND get your message across. May end up with kid at home if it’s TOO fun, which defeats your purpose of having it stick around as a reminder on the recipient’s desk.

2. The helpful tool:

Ripon Printers printing tools series: Ripon Printers’ capabilities include practically anything you’d want in a printer: digital/offset/web, cold and heatset, fulfillment, custom ink jetting, list hygiene and maintenance, catalog/education/direct marketing expertise, and web-storefront capabilities. To spread the word of their wide range of expertise, MondoVox concepted and designed a series of handy Tips Books (one per service area) and a video that would serve multiple marketing tasks. Not only do sales representatives distribute these tools to their existing customers, MondoVox also created a multipart direct mail campaign targeting new prospects. We created a handy book box for the tips books and a disc mailer for the video DVD. Ripon uses these 3D mailings along with a personalized introductory brochure to complete a three-part campaign for all new prospect lists.

This is a great example of how you can be 3D even if using relatively flat objects like books or DVDs. No need to throw in a pen just to get a bump on your envelope. It’s also a good example of a series within a series; the tips books can be mailed individually with the first one going out with the book box and the others arriving one week apart until the recipient fills the box.

Benefit Downside
If it’s truly a great tool, it will have a high sticky factor. In fact, don’t be surprised if prospects take your tools from job to job if they find them particularly valuable. Can come off as matter-of-fact and serious rather than providing any sort of clever gotcha moment. BUT if concepted carefully, a tool series can accomplish both.

3. Custom product samples:

Gourmetceuticals Taste Test Kit: Being new to the market, Gourmetceuticals needed to quickly convince food ingredient buyers that their nutritional ingredients did not impart negative flavors in final products but did offer all the benefits of nutritional supplements. We created a Taste-Test Kit using a granola product developed by a partnership between Nuts Are Good and Gourmetceuticals. The granola packs were designed to resemble grocery-ready food items while containing technical information directed to the buyer. Accompanying the samples was a cover letter and instructional booklet that walked the buyer through tasting the product, ultimately convincing them that Gourmetceuticals’ ingredients provide added nutrition while not imparting negative flavors or aftertastes. Careful pre-qualification of a limited number of targets allowed us to mail the kits via a parcel delivery service.

These kits were so successful that we expanded to include a print ad + landing page kit request to attract additional buyers.

Benefit Downside
By carefully controlling the message with a custom product sample, you have the opportunity to demonstrate your product AND get the meeting. Seemingly the most boring of all options, BUT could actually be quite effective if matched with a catchy message and the right target market. Also more labor intensive than just ordering a box of pens, but the potential payoff is much greater.

Don’t Be a Joke-in-a-Box.

While everyone wants to do the fun, gadget-type of campaign, that’s not always the most appropriate or most effective 3D object to incorporate. Consider carefully your brand reputation and key marketing messages to determine what type is best for you.

By Julia Moran Martz

Is Your Swag Lame?

coffeklutch-250Most trade show giveaways are lame. How many cheap plastic pens does one really need anyway? And don’t even get me started about all those mismatched coffee mugs cluttering the office kitchen. Lame ideas are born of laziness rather than a meager budget or a short deadline. They don’t really support the brand and probably hurt it.

So why do we do it? I think it’s primarily because many marketers don’t equate increased value with a better promotional plan. Many don’t have the passion it takes to be unique. And some doubt their own creative abilities.

Well, let’s address these concerns by exploring the possibilities. We’ll start with understanding your target audience and your goals for the trade show, then build from there.

Get a Plan.

Consider the potential sales value of each lead and budget accordingly. If your products are inexpensive, you’re not going to want to spend a lot on swag. However, if one potential buyer could spend half a million bucks with your company, you’ve got to up the ante accordingly.

And remember, your logo on any old object won’t support your brand as much as a unique and appropriate concept.

Holding a business card drawing for a digital camera may seem like a good idea for drawing traffic to your booth, but there is a difference between traffic and prospects. Most of the people standing in line for your camera fish bowl are not your prospects. You haven’t prequalified them. To get the prospects that will reward you by becoming clients, you’ll have to work harder.

If your prospects are indeed all show attendees, your promotional goals will be different than if you’re targeting only 5% of attendees. Remember, in the right situation, a more selective approach could actually require a smaller budget and yield larger returns.

Don’t Be Cheap.

Having a meager budget and being cheap are two different things. If your budget is small, don’t be cornered into buying the shoddiest swag you find. Cheap swag will cheapen your brand and may even break, further impacting your brand’s image. Not a risk you should take.

The wiser approach with a smaller budget is to buckle down and get creative. Consider buying a smaller quantity and target it to only the most qualified of leads. Keep it out of sight until sales reps have qualified the booth visitor.

Creating Value On a Budget.

Swag doesn’t have to be expensive. With a little creativity, you too can find something that resonates with prospects, supports your brand and is memorable. Here are several approaches to staying on a tight budget.

  1. You can use your own product to create something unique. Ever hear of the floor covering company that created insoles for shoes from one of their highly comfortable flooring products? The preprinted insoles were cut to fit attendees shoes right in the booth. Attendees were able to review the product in action and sales persons had an opportunity to chat up the target during their fitting.
  2. Have a multi-tiered swag plan. Have something low-cost for the masses and have a few higher-ticket items saved for those who really qualify (after a lengthy discussion with a sales person, of course). For instance, save the iPod docking station for C-level folks while investing something of a lesser value to mid-level persons. Just make sure to keep the A-list items out of sight of the B-listers, and use discretion about handing them out in a crowd. Perhaps the high value item gets shipped to the prospect after you’ve gathered the qualification info. And don’t forget to train your booth mavens to qualify leads quickly so they don’t waste time and swag on trade show rats scavenging for a handout. This is one of the best ways to manage your swag budget. Train your folks to be selective.
  3. Take another look at your product samples and think about them in terms of giveaways. For instance, a printer I know who is focused on educational tools for K-12 has a large static vinyl dinosaur they printed for classroom display. This is just the kind of cool thing that a prospective buyer in their target market would think is nifty. Not only does it show the printer’s skills, but it also can actually be used in a kid’s room and is incredibly fun.
  4. Make it a two-parter. Keep costs down by sending part one of the giveaway with an invitation-only premailer a week prior to the show. Include only the top 50 key folks you want to invite to your booth/hotel suite party/post-show golf outing. Make it clear that they get part two when they show up. Again, this is a limited, highly targeted list; NOT everyone attending the show. This approach provides you more face time with your targets than just hoping they mosey by between sessions.
  5. Be everywhere. If most of the attendees are true prospects, station a greeter at the front door to the event to give away coupons for free product samples at the booth to the first 100 people. This works exceedingly well if you promote it before the event with premailers. If the limited edition samples are top shelf, folks will make it to the show early enough to snag a coupon. Just be sure to label your greeter clearly so they can be found in the crowd.
  6. Beware the food item (unless food is your business). Once it’s eaten, it’s gone. Using food can be much more effective if it’s part of a kit or accompanied with something more permanent. And if food is your business, coupons are much appreciated by folks after they leave the show.

Be Unique.

Tons of companies give away corporate coffee mugs, and most of them end up at Goodwill. You could be different by simply providing another use for those crappy mugs your prospects got at another booth by giving them a Mug Boss® tool organizer. This is a great example of something unique, functional and fun.

If you can’t find something unique that supports your promotional goals and fits within your budget, start looking for something with a unique design. Sometimes a uniquely designed everyday item is actually less expensive than something totally unique. But you’ll have to dig for it.

Use Swag Instead of a Booth.

Didn’t exactly nail a prime booth spot in time for the show? Not to worry. Here’s where you can really get creative. Take that budget, or even half of it, and apply it to a promotional program that includes appropriate giveaways.

See if show management will allow you to work the floor, entrance, coat check or parking lot. There’s no reason why you can’t use a unique giveaway item to introduce yourself to folks outside of a traditional booth.

  • Working coat check? Provide imprinted scarves either when they check their coat or pick them up. Just make sure your logo placement is tasteful.
  • Working the parking lot in the summer? Provide sunscreens for car windows. Imprinted with your marketing message of course.
  • Working the entrance or main hallway? Offer a cool tote bag before they enter the show. And remember, cool doesn’t mean expensive. They can be very simple bags with a wildly creative printed design, and your logo of course.

Of course, don’t forget to strike up a conversation at the same time, provide an accompanying promo card and collect leads.

Include Swag In Your Follow Up Kit.

Have your follow up kits ready to go before the show. (You DO have follow up kits, right?) By sending in leads daily to your assistant back at the office, follow up kits can be waiting for your prospects when they return home. This also stretches your budget by allowing you to be highly selective. Another tip: if your kit is a flat mailer, include a ‘bump’ in your kit— a small item that prevents the envelope from lying perfectly flat. It can be almost anything but should relate to the contents of the kit and ideally, back to the theme you used for the show. Bumps almost guarantee your kit will be opened. Yet one more tip: include a label on the outside of the envelope stating the information was requested at the show and your kit will be more likely to get past the gatekeepers.

Build a Better List From Show Contacts. Use the opportunity to gather permission to include targets on your monthly emailed newsletter. Studies show that permission-based emails get opened 26% more often than unsolicited emails. Then follow up via email within 24 hours to let them know you’ll add them to the list and when they’ll receive the first issue. Oh, and “in the meantime, here’s a white paper you may find interesting”. Make this first contact personal, before they’re added to the newsletter subscriber list. 

— by Julia Moran Martz