How I Beat the Control: Breakthrough Lead-gen Package Helps Close More Big-Ticket Sales
In B-to-B marketing, a "lead" is defined as someone who has expressed an interest in a product or service and a willingness to learn more. A sales team that is fed a steady flow of leads can set more appointments, make presentations to higher quality prospects and, subsequently, close more sales.
Sounds idyllic, doesn't it? The problem is: How do you generate all these leads in the first place?
When Psion Teklogix Inc. needed to answer that question, it was having difficulties breaking through in a market that consisted of busy, hard-to-reach CFOs and VPs. It needed a new direct mail package that would reel in the leads. So it invited me to beat the control.
Psion Teklogix is a global provider of mobile computing solutions. In a nutshell, it sells software and hardware that enables a "field force" (sales reps, meter readers, repair technicians) to access computer applications using hand-held devices. The value of a sale can be in the six figures.
Psion's previous control was a direct mail sales letter, which was somewhat successful. As Richard Bauly, Psion vice president of business development, puts it: "It worked well in certain sectors, however we needed something that would generate more leads from utility, cable and telecommunication organizationsmarkets that are notoriously difficult to crack."
Digging for Information
When I plan and write a direct mail package, I spend a considerable amount of time on research. The more I know, the better I sell. So, for Psion Teklogix, I analyzed the current control, reviewed all the print and online marketing
communications, and studied what the competitors were doing. I also interviewed many of the sales reps. No one knows better than these folks what the real issues are, and what is keeping prospects awake at night.
From all this research, I learned that, because of regulatory changes, the target audience is under increased competitive pressure. In respect to field forces, these companies needed to find new ways to increase billable hours, lower costs and improve customer service. Can you guess what my key messages were going to be?
Making the Offer Irresistible
Most B-to-B direct mail offers include some sort of free information, such as a brochure or white paper. But a mistake that many marketers make is positioning the offer too weakly. Is there anything more uninspiring than a sales letter that asks you to call for a free brochure? In my experience, free information offers must be treated the same as offers with a price tag. They must be sold.
To help sell Psion Teklogix's version of free informationwhich is a selection of brochures, case studies and white papers, along with a demo CDI gave it a distinctive name: Field Force Mobilization Kit. This "branding" not only raised the perceived value but also distinguished the information from what the competitors were offering.
To make the kit even more enticing, I recommended that the client develop and include a Self-Assessment Guide. This is a simple fill-in-the-blanks survey that enables the prospect to calculate the approximate return on investment (ROI) of having a Psion Teklogix solution in place. I've used this type of offer in other direct mail promotions, and it always has pulled well. And a guide like this is remarkably easy to produce.
Creating the Package
Because of the research I did, I knew that the package would need to hammer home three big promises:
* More billable hours;
* Lower costs; and
* Satisfied customers.
My copywriting strategy was to lead with these promises right out of the starting gate: on the envelope. The inside components would then break these high-level promises down into specifics, paint a vivid picture of the benefits, support all claims with abundant proof, and position the Field Force Mobilization Kit as an easy way to learn more.
The Completed Package
The sales letter follows a persuasive sequence: drawing attention to the prospect's pain; offering the solution; proving that it works; and then providing a clear next step. Evoking emotion in a letter to a sophisticated B-to-B audience can be tricky. If you come off as too salesy or trite, you lose them. But if you don't reach prospects on an emotional level, you won't sell them. It's a balancing act.
To make the emotional sale in this letter, I create a scene that begins on page two with the line: "Consider this snapshot." Then, in a series of bullets, I paint a what-life-would-be-like picture using such points as, "Payments are processed immediately," and, "Paperwork virtually disappears." The scene ends with the words: "And you made it happen." The reader can feel the benefits, not just to his organization, but also to his career.
In the postscript, I ask the question: "How much will you save?" Then, after quoting some compelling savings statistics, I challenge the reader:
Your numbers may vary, higher or lower. Why not find out? Simply request your free Field Force Mobilization Kit today.
The strategy here is to position the offer not just as a good idea, but also as due diligence. Would any CFO not want to know what the potential savings are?
For the brochure, we needed a design concept that spoke volumes about the benefits while continuing to promote the offer. There's an adage in direct mail that says: The brochure tells, and the letter sells. But in B-to-B, I believe that both components must sell.
The mailing's designer, Michael Huggins, and I came up with a concept nicknamed "the long arm." Visually, it is an outstretched arm that runs the entire length of the unfolded 33" brochurewith a hand on both ends! The image is odd, even jarring, but certainly draws attention. The copy is strategically placed along the sleeve.
The brochure copy follows the same benefits-oriented style as the letter. Here's an excerpt:
More Billable Hours.
The math is easy. The more jobs your field force completes per day, the more potential revenues they can generate.
Our solutions make it easy to dispatch field force personnel to the right location, carrying the right inventory, sooner. Once on site, they can capture and process data quickly, get the answers they need to solve problems fast, and travel to the next jobwithout delays.
The reply card summarizes the offer and gives the prospect four convenient ways to reply: fax, mail, phone and e-mail.
Although Psion Teklogix prefers not to reveal specific response and conversion figures, Bauly does say, "[This] package has beat out everything we've tried before in terms of mailings. It has been particularly effective in generating leads from hard-to-reach prospects in key industries. And we've closed a number of important sales."
In fact, the new control is so successful that Psion Teklogix is now using elements of the package in other marketing promotions, such as ads, e-mail and even trade shows. As Bauly points out, "It's a winner for us!"
An award-winning freelance copywriter, Steve Slaunwhite helps marketing professionals sell more to CEOs, CIOs, executives, managers, professionals, investors and other business-oriented customers and prospects. He works with B-to-B clients and publishers throughout North America. Steve can be reached at (905) 846-2620 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. To access an online portfolio and other information on his services, visit www.steveslaunwhite.com.