TM0402_Cover/12 Ways to Wreck Your Fulfillment
By Denny Hatch
What follows may seem obvious, but don't dismiss these out of hand. The dot-com train wreck was caused precisely because hotshot smartypants broke the following rules, most likely because they didn't know them, or if they knew them, didn't believe them.
These tips were offered by Karen Boyle, a contributor to the book "2,239 Tested Secrets for Direct Marketing Success." —D.H.
1. Offer material that you don't actually have on hand yet.
Instead: Prepare your fulfillment material ahead of time. Don't advertise your products until you know you can deliver. Don't offer premiums or information pieces until you have them on the shelf.
2. Provide reply cards or coupons that allow illegible, handwritten address information.
Instead: Preprint names and addresses on mail reply cards. Provide boxes to check if possible. Leave plenty of space, and say, "Please type or print."
3. Fulfill when convenient or "as practical."
Instead: Require fulfillment within 48 business hours. Follow up by phone. Tell inquirers, "I called to let you know that your material will be in the mail tomorrow. Is there any way I can help now?"
4. Fulfill with confusing material, for example, printed folders containing information about an entire line without highlighting the specific information requested.
Instead: Send a personalized letter with direct references both to the source of the inquiry and to the specific product of interest.
5. Spend big money to get each inquiry, then send a "cheap" response to inquirers.
Instead: Understand that responders' names are far more valuable than when they were only suspects on the original list. Treat them that way.
6. Refer inquirers to the wrong dealers or distributors.
Instead: Use a computer fulfillment program to identify your closest outlet to each prospect.
7. Promise a follow-up without actually requiring one.