Editor's Notebook: Consumers Behind Desks
Over the past six months, I've noticed an uptick in the number of catalogs, nonprofit appeals and other types of direct mail in my office inbox. They arrive addressed to my name and title at Target Marketing, the sister magazine that I edit in addition to Inside Direct Mail.
If these efforts had come from companies with whom I already do business, I wouldn't have been surprised. But many of these companies don't even mail me at home. Given the challenges facing marketers who want to break through the ever-increasing mailbox clutter, it's entirely possible that the workplace might be a fresh venue for B-to-C offers.
Not only are business people consumers sitting behind a desk, as direct marketing expert Denny Hatch has said, but they also are exhibiting behavior that indicates they like to shop from their offices.
For instance, a study conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association between 1999 and 2002 showed that the percentage of U.S. consumers shopping online at work had nearly doubled, as reported by research firm eMarketer. Further, a December 2003 Harris Interactive study on holiday online spending commissioned by Yahoo! noted that 28 percent of the 1,537 respondents said they would do some of their holiday shopping during the workday. What's even more interesting is that 81 percent of these respondents said they would perform this personal activity on their lunch hour, other work break or after hours; 19 percent openly admitted to shopping during company time!
When you consider that recent research by both the U.S. Postal Service and the e-commerce solutions firm DoubleClick suggest that catalogs and other types of direct mail campaigns drive online visits and purchases, it seems like a logical leap to test sending direct mail to people at their place of business. At the very least, it saves these recipients the effort of transporting the promotion to the office!
Of course, if your job is to sell to other businesses, you might see such a trend as extra competition for your campaigns. In that case, we've got a story for you in this month's issue. Turn to page 20, where the article "Reaching Purchase Influencers," by B-to-B copywriter and consultant Susan Fantle, offers advice on how to tailor your messaging to convince targets in all title ranges to choose your solution.
Fantle makes a point to keep in mind: Some corporate mail rooms will not deliver direct mail to employees. While it's doubtful that this group represents a significant portion of U.S. businesses, you might want to test putting your catalog in an envelope or toning down your graphics and copy to look more business-like.
Now, if you will excuse me, it's my lunch hour and I have some online shopping to do!