What to Put in the Fulfillment Kit
You've got some promising leads, prospects who have responded to your initial offer to learn more about your product or service. But that interest level could range from mild curiosity to a more immediate need for a solution to a problem. So what do you send these leads that will help the tentative become more assured, while not putting off those who might make a quick decision?
"Whether the customer is a consumer or B-to-B buyer, the most important thing for the kit to do is to keep the sales process alive," says Pat Friesen, president of Pat Friesen & Co., a direct marketing consultancy and agency in Leawood, Kan. "You want to write and design the kit so that it has sticking power and/or long-term value, and is easily routed. ... In fact, the copy and design need to invite this type of activity. Never assume people will do this. And never assume the person receiving the kit will look at it and order immediately. Doesn't happen."
Not every fulfillment kit is meant to lead to a sale, notes Lee Marc Stein, proprietor of Lee Marc Stein, Ltd., a Mahopac, N.Y., direct marketing agency and consulting service. Sometimes, he explains, the goal of the second step is to move the selling process forward to the third step, such as an in-person sales call or a detailed quote.
Regardless of the kit's objective, a few best practices for kit development apply to all second-step situations. Here's what to consider before building your ideal fulfillment kit.
The Letter Leads the Way
"Every fulfillment mailing needs a short cover letter that sells the value of what's in the kit," says Friesen. The primary job of this letter is to introduce the kit to prospects; it's the tool that walks people through the different components included and why they are in the kit.
But the letter also needs to re-sell the benefits promised in the lead generation effort, points out Ivan Levison, proprietor of Ivan Levison & Associates, a direct marketing consultancy and agency in San Francisco, Calif. He urges marketers not to send out a two-paragraph letter where one of the paragraphs is the list of kit components. To really build up prospects' desire for your product or service, the letter should strive for a connection with its audience.
To help connect with prospects, Friesen advises marketers to lead off the letter with a recap of the offer to which people responded. Then, the copy should highlight the top two or three elements in the kit that you think are the most valuable or have the best selling power. Once this is done, you can explain the other components and present your call to action for whatever the next step in the sales process will be.
If this kit is expected to sell hard, Levison says, make sure the letter works as hard as those in one-step campaigns. Play up your guarantee, push your benefits, ask for the sale more than once and tell prospects how to find the order form in the kit.
Gotta Have an Order Form
In Friesen's experience, many leads tend to order by phone or online these days, but an order form still is essential to a fulfillment kit. The ink-on-paper form drives the ordering process and serves as a single piece containing all offer and contact details.
Levison adds that this order form is every bit as important as the kind you would place in a one-step campaign. So don't skimp on the bells and whistles that help it stand out, such as certificate borders, catchy titles, a repeat of any guarantees, etc.
If you offer online ordering, Friesen points out, make sure the URL is for an order form landing page or other special landing page that closes the sale; don't drop people into the homepage where they can get lost or distracted before purchasing.
And always put an order form in the kit, she says, even if the goal is not to push a sale during this step. If a prospect has read all he needs to learn, why stand in the way of a sale?
The Other Goodies
The sky is the limit on what materials you might put in the kit to support your selling position. Stein suggests some or all of the following:
- a more comprehensive brochure or product sheet than might have been in the lead generation effort;
- usage suggestions;
- any news coverage of your product or product sector that supports your position;
- product samples;
- DVDs, CDs, videocassette or audiocassette presentations;
- comparison charts;
- whitepapers; and
- anything you promised in the lead generation piece.
In addition to carefully thinking through what you include, consider how to present it. The item you offered to reel in leads should be the "hero or focus" of the kit components, says Friesen. Position it that way by creating a special place for it in your presentation holdermaybe its own pocket in a folder or at least placed right under the letter to help prospects find it easily.
One tactic Levison uses to drive prospects to this "hero" item involves using a specific call out in the letter copy; for example, he will tell pros-pects not to miss the important information on page 8 of the whitepaper or play up an aspect of the demo on the CD.
Friesen offers a tip to copywriters and marketers at the whims of corporate decisions: "If you have to include the catalog/brochure/other materials that no one will read but have already been printed, band them together in a 'sleeve' or put them in an interior carrier that has copy that communicates value ... but isolates them."
While you don't want to overwhelm prospects with too many components or information overload, sometimes an unexpected element tossed in can have a strong effect. Stein likes to give leads an additional whitepaper, a book or maybe a product sample, noting that these extra goodies show prospects that your company plans to exceed their expectations, not just meet them.
And it's all the better if this extra component is something that keeps the sales process active, says Friesen. You could insert a business card or magnet with your contact information, or print your contact information on the inside flap of a book you enclosedanything that keeps your company's name top of mind while the prospect is still in the decision-making phase.
In the end, the goal of any fulfillment kit is to spark involvement. Plan your strategy carefully, so your expensive fulfillment materials don't wind up at the bottom of your prospect's "to read" pile.