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The four B2B offers is right for [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] – Mountain Mail

In business-to-business direct mail, [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] are unlikely to reach prospects at the very moment they are ready to buy. And even if [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] do, [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] are not likely to close the sale with just a sales letter. That’s because business buying decisions rarely involve just one step (such as dropping a cheque in the mail or placing an order by phone).

Instead, the buying cycle typically involves a request for more information, either by way of literature or a visit from a sales rep, followed by a sales meeting, a product demonstration, maybe a trial, then a contract.

[pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] do not usually know where cold prospects are in their buying cycle. So [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r direct mail should try to hook them wherever they are. The best way to generate a response is to present more than one offer.

Hard Offer

The hard offer asks for the order. “Call before June 18th to save 40% off [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r network installation.” “Book [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r commercial property tax audit now.” Use a hard offer when [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] want [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r mailing to generate immediate action–usually in the form of a sale. Prospects who respond to hard offers are usually able and willing to buy right now.

Soft Offer

The soft offer asks [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r prospects to raise their hands in a show of interest, but does not ask for an order or a commitment. An example of a soft offer: “Return the enclosed business reply card for [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r free copy of our special industry report.” Use a soft offer when [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] want to generate a sales lead rather than an immediate sale or sales appointment. Soft offers identify prospects who are able to buy, just not willing to buy right now. [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] follow up with them and close the sale later on.

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Deferred Offer

The deferred offer asks prospects to let [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] know when [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] should contact them again. The wording of such an offer on a reply card might sound like this: “Not interested right now, but get back to me on [date]: ___________________.” The prospect fills in the date. The deferred offer isn’t really an offer, of course, since [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] are not offering anything. It’s more of a call to action. Use a deferred offer when [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] want to identify prospects who are neither able nor willing to buy right now, but might be in the future.

The four B2B offers is right for [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]

Negative Offer

The negative offer asks [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r readers to tell [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] that they are not interested in what [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] are selling. The wording of such an offer on a reply card might sound like this: “Not interested [please give reason]: ________________.” The reader gives the reason. The negative offer is like the deferred offer in that it’s not an offer as much as a call to action ([pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] are not offering anything).

Use a deferred offer when [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] want to clean [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r mailing list, removing business names who are not prospects and never will be. Also use a negative offer to learn why people won’t buy from [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]. Their answers are informative (even surprising!).

I recommend that [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r direct mail piece include either a hard offer or a soft offer. [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] want to generate either a sale (hard offer) or a sales lead (soft offer). Put the other offers on the reply device only. [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] don’t want multiple offers in [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r letter.

Alan Sharpe is a business-to-business direct mail copywriter and lead generation consultant who helps high-tech firms attract new clients using creative, cost-effective direct mail.

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How to get prospects to open [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r direct mail envelopes – mountain mail

In direct mail, [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] have a formidable enemy—the wastepaper basket. [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r prospects take one look at [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r mailing envelope and decide if they will open it or fling it into the trash can (or recycling box). One way to persuade them to open [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r envelope is to make [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r envelope irresistible. Here are a few ideas.

1. Unusual colours

Keep [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r mailing envelopes the same size and weight, just change the colour from white to something different or more daring.


2. Odd size or shape – [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]

Send [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r message in a jumbo-size envelope. Or in a square envelope. Or send [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r message in a tiny envelope. Just remember that [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r envelope has to conform to postal regulations for size and shape, and fit through a normal mailbox.


3. Personalization

Put [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r prospect’s name right on the front of the envelope, perhaps in the form of a question: “Hey, Alan, know who offers the lowest interest rates?”

The four B2B offers is right for [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]

4. Cartoon – [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]

Speaking of personalization, put a cartoon on the front of [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r envelope, and put [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r prospect’s name in the caption (so that one of the cartoon characters is using [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r prospect’s name in what they are saying).


5. Teaser

Ask a provocative question, give a compelling statistic, feature a gripping photo or use another device that intrigues [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r prospect and motivates them to open [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r envelope to satisfy their curiosity.


6. Go plain – [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]

Sometimes just a plain old #10 envelope works as well as anything else. IBM discovered in tests that they increased their response dramatically just by putting their logo in the top left hand corner of the envelope. [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] may increase the number of people who open [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r envelope by not using [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] logo, or not mentioning [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r company name, just [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r return address.

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The secret to irresistible envelopes is creativity and testing. Be as imaginative as [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] can, and then test [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16]r hunches in the marketplace. May [pii_email_096d854470c8a6a62b16] discover many winners!