How to Reach B-to-B Buyers
Tough List and Data Work Yields a Big Payoff
By John M. Coe
PEOPLE BUY, NOT COMPANIES. Over the years, I've frequently heard business-to-business marketers say, "We've finished our targeting and we now know which companies are the best suspects to buy our product/service."
Well, this doesn't go far enough, because that's only half the job. Actually, a company doesn't buy anything—it's the people within the company who make the buying decisions and place the orders. Simple enough, to be sure, but often forgotten by direct marketers who either come from the consumer world or haven't truly sold in the b-to-b environment.
Getting the mailing piece to the mail room without the name of the proper individual will significantly lower the "delivery rate" and therefore lower the response rate for the campaign. Not having the name of the proper individual leads to the default direct marketing tactic of using title slugs.
This worked better years ago. Most mail room workers who now see a title slug of "Product Manager" either throw it out or deliver it to the administrative assistant in the product management group, who promptly throws it out or puts in it the stack of mail for the vice president of product management. He then glances at it briefly, and throws it out. No wonder response rates are declining.
The List: 60 Percent of Your B-to-B Success
Of the three basic elements in a direct marketing communication—list, offer and creative—the list is by far more important in b-to-b than in b-to-c (business-to-consumer) marketing. Most b-to-b experts agree it's worth 60 percent or more of the success of your effort. There's an old axiom in b-to-b: "Sending a lousy mailing to a great list will outpull a great mailing sent to a lousy list." I completely agree. You need to spend the time and money to get the best list possible.