Hill Holliday Relationship Marketing's Nancy Harhut on Getting Your Mailing Into the Must-read Pile
Often success in the mailstream is defined by the major strategies in place, yet with fickle prospects in a fickle economy, success may increasingly be found in the details. Like the professional football teams that win the Super Bowl each year, it's the little things that don't show up in the stat column which make the difference between winning and losing.
For Nancy Harhut, senior vice president and managing director at Hill Holliday Relationship Marketing in Boston, losing is not an option for clients—such as Bank of America, Cognos, Dell, Novartis and Liberty Mutual—that feel the current economic strain. So she helped develop breakthrough marketing efforts that go beyond the offer and message, and that incorporate how people behave and why they make decisions.
Ethan Boldt: You say a great offer, message and list is not enough. What's missing?
Nancy Harhut: Those are required, certainly. But with the competition for people's attention at an all-time high, even marketing pieces that are well-targeted and well thought out still sometimes get ignored. That's why we also think about how and why people make decisions ... what our mental shortcuts are ... and what triggers prompt certain reflexive behaviors. And then we build these things into our creative as well.
EB: What is the prospect's "subconscious," and how important is it?
NH: Social scientists have done a lot of research into this and have documented certain "compliance triggers"—particular words, icons, phrases, etc., that prompt an automatic response from people. Given that we, as direct marketers, are in the business of motivating human behavior, this can be very important and useful to us. If, over the years, people have developed shorthand ways of making decisions, and have become conditioned to reflexively respond to particular stimuli, why wouldn't a direct marketer want to add that to his or her creative arsenal?