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Get Innovative With B2B Direct Mail

November 16, 2011 | By Jonathan Block

When someone mentions innovation we typically think of something brand new and, well, innovative. But innovation can also apply to using something old in a new, different and, hopefully, better way. This could be recycling plastic bottles to make carpet or as I'll outline in this post, a new use for a classic marketing tactic, direct mail.

When someone mentions innovation we typically think of something brand new and, well, innovative. But innovation can also apply to using something old in a new, different and, hopefully, better way. This could be recycling plastic bottles to make carpet or as I'll outline in this post, a new use for a classic marketing tactic, direct mail.

The declining value of direct mail for B2B has been written about extensively so no need to rehash the argument here. But the death of direct mail has been greatly exaggerated as organizations have discovered its use as an effective way to reach the CXO suite through the use of packaged items such as a book or electronic gadget with a clear action item. Our research shows that such direct mail tactics are effective 22 percent of the time with CXOs. While an executive's assistant can toss a letter, a box will typically have to be delivered or at least opened.

Another innovative way to use direct mail is for internal marketing. I recently had an inquiry with a client that needed to better educate their sales team on how some key deals were won. This client had already done the typical internal case studies by creating short, informative videos and blasting these out via email and posts to the internal social community platform. But there was a very low response rate (below 10 percent) and views of the video as well as downloads of the case studies were virtually nonexistent.

To meet this challenge, I suggested they try informing sales of the content through direct mail sent to their offices as few employees will disregard an envelope that comes from corporate. Marketing created a short case study with a link for an online video and printed it up as a one-sided glossy, and then followed up with an email containing the link as well. The net is that the response rate jumped to close to 50 percent and the video was viewed by close to 40 percent of the sales force. For organizations that feel this is an inappropriate use of company letterhead, try finding some of those old interoffice memorandum envelopes — the ones with the string tie on the back — pop gloss one-sheet into it and have it delivered to their desks.

What are some the innovative ways you've seen direct mail being used by B2B companies?

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is Vice President and Practice Director, Technology, at SiriusDecisions. He has developed key models and frameworks that enable b-to-b organizations to understand, evaluate and implement appropriate marketing and sales technologies, as well as advised executive clients on the role of technology to help drive sales and marketing integration and enterprise alignment. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @jblock.

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