Marketing|Demand Creation Blog: Thoughts on strategy, lead optimization, social media and the digital space

Monday, June 12, 2006

Transform 20th Century Prospecting into 21st Century Results

It might be surprising to hear in our “new media” age that marketers would largely turn to traditional offline media to build their email prospecting lists, but that’s what a recent survey by Silverpop found. 64% said offline advertising and direct marketing were their primary email list growth tactics. 1 The constraints created by anti-spamming legislation probably have a good deal to do with it.

Considering that the average business-to-business response rate for direct mail hovers around 2.04% (postcard mail is about 1.59%)2 and that the other shoe is poised to drop in 2008 with a 9% rate increase for standard US mail postage,3 it’s pretty clear that we’re going to have to come up with new, innovative ways to convince prospects to provide their contact information — especially email addresses — in some way other than unsolicited email outreach or direct mail.

Survey-How do you build your email list?

But this might not be such a bad thing. As the costs of printing and mailing increase, marketing and C-level management may begin to realize that its time to move beyond the low hanging fruit of sending brochures and flyers to large numbers of businesspeople who may be interested and focus instead on generating fewer but highly targeted leads.

Event marketing may be one of the best places to play, but not in the way most people have come to think about it — from the ubiquitous “trade show” (trade shows were also at the top of the Silverpop survey). Gone should be the days of setting up a booth at a trade show and giving away tchotchkes to passersby in exchange for a business card. In most cases this is no better than mass mailing — and a lot more expensive.

Instead, arranging opportunities for company leaders to present or participate in roundtables and panel discussions at highly targeted events on topics of intense interest to the audience (no us-centric sales pitches) over time helps build a thought-leadership position for the company in its industry. More than what is communicated to the attendees, real return emerges from the opportunity to speak with fellow panelists on a personal level behind-the-scenes as peers and free of the usual gatekeepers. The strategy shifts from targeting event attendees to subtly marketing to the top-decision makers. It requires pre-, during-, and post-event actions in multiple channels to fully leverage an event and it can claim a big chunk of already stretched marketing budgets to participate in these events. But it works. In fact, one such strategy opened doors to $US 60 million in potential business that had previously been closed — far more than the total cost of the program — simply because the company (via the CEO) came to be perceived as a partner who understood their world and not as a vendor trying to sell something.4 That’s a sea change worth striving for.


1 Silverpop survey of 321 email marketers from B2B and B2C companies

2 Direct Marketing Association 2005 Response Rate Survey; Stevens, Ruth P. “Reaching Out.” Direct. June 1, 2006. pg. 25

3 Schultz, Ray. “More Postal Misery.” Direct. June 1, 2006. pg. 7

4 Internal study, 2004-2005.

Joseph Mann Monday, June 12, 2006


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