Puh-leeze … Send Me a Letter!
I have been scratching my head in astonishment with the receipt of two recent B2B mailings sent to me at the office ... and neither of them included a letter.
The one from CBeyond was sent First Class Mail with a tracking number in a card stock 9-1/2" x 12" outer and included an Amazon gift card tipped to a one-sided 4-color insert. The other was from NAC (North American Communications) with a nifty chart outlining the latest 2014 USPS rates.
Why is a letter so important?
Because any direct mail package — B2C or B2B — contains a number of components that, together, make a sales team.
The best description of the various elements in a direct mail package that I've ever read is from Malcolm Decker — Chapter 4 in the classic book Million Dollar Mailing$. Here are some quick points:
We all know that the envelope's purpose is to get opened. As Malcolm puts it ... "the envelope knocks on the door to see if anyone's home." But, once the envelope is opened, the letter becomes the most important member of the team. It is certainly what I look at first. To quote Malcom: "It is the salesperson who is speaking personally and directly to the prospect on a one-to-one basis."
In short, a letter is the one opportunity for the writer to make an emotional connection with the reader. All else in the package — circular, invitation, order mechanism — are rational.
“When emotion and reason come into conflict,” wrote John J. Flieder, “emotion wins every time.”
To continue into the package: "the folder or brochure is the demonstrator. It demonstrates in graphics what the letter can only say in words. It should convince the reader in images that that everything the letter says is true." Here's an important point: Because this element is impersonal, the voice should be different than the very personal one used in the letter.
Imagine the difference if a person from CBeyond had written me a letter introducing themselves and touting the many customer benefits they offer instead of the no-name message printed on the insert above the gift card. Or if NAC had enclosed a letter with their freemium that spoke of their solutions and to keep them in mind for a free quote ... or make some kind of offer!
No wonder I drink too much.
'Til next time.