B-to-B Insights: Getting a Leg Up
I'm somewhat of an anomaly in the freelance copywriting business. I say this because I am one of a small group of copywriters who write a significant amount of direct mail for two distinct and different markets: consumer mail-order marketers and B-to-B lead generation.
From this perspective, I've learned that the most knowledgeable direct mail practitioners are, by far, the large-volume consumer mail-order marketers. There are two reasons why the Boardrooms and Agoras of the world know so much more than their B-to-B counterparts about what sends response rates through the roof.
First, when you mail millions of pieces a year, you can do a lot more testing. Only through testing do we learn what works—and what doesn't.
Second, the consumer mail-order marketers live and die by the power of their direct mail and online promotions. For their businesses to make money, they must perfect their copy, design, list selection and offers.
By comparison, many B-to-B marketers do direct mail campaigns of only a few thousand pieces—and in narrow niche markets, only a few hundred pieces. With these small quantities, the number of variables you can test is severely limited. And these small-volume B-to-B mailers typically rely on multiple marketing channels, of which direct mail usually is not the most significant.
Also, while lead generation requires a definite skill set and knowledge base, it is somewhat less difficult than one-step promotions. With lead generation, the mailing just gets the prospect to express interest, but the sale is closed by a salesperson. In mail order, your direct mail package has to do the entire selling job.
To help improve your B-to-B direct mail results, here are five important direct mail lessons you can learn from your B-to-C direct marketing brethren.
1. Use a List Broker
A surprising number of B-to-B marketing directors have told me they rent mailing lists directly from trade publications and other list owners, and do not use a list broker. A significant minority was either not aware of the existence of list brokers or did not know what list brokers do or why to use them instead of renting lists directly from owners.
Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter who has written copy for more than 100 clients including IBM, AT&T, Praxair, Intuit, Forbes, and Ingersoll-Rand. McGraw-Hill calls Bob “America’s top copywriter” and he is the author of 90 books, including “The Copywriter's Handbook.” Find him online at www.bly.com or call (973) 263-0562.