Wingra Technologies - Stick to the Basics! (800 words)
by Liam Crotty
Proven direct response techniques are the cornerstone of any successful direct mail campaign. Using the same 5,000 prospect names, Wingra Technologies went from a bleak six responses to an impressive 344 by incorporating seven classic direct-response tools. These techniques can be applied to virtually any industry—including your own.
The Direct Mail Challenge
Wingra Technologies of Madison, WI, is a business-to-business software company that is an industry leader in e-mail migration—the process of merging many different e-mail systems into one seamless package. Wingra had been creating its direct mail packages in-house to promote its e-mail migration software and generating minimal results. The company's efforts hit a low point early in 1998 when it sent a mailing to 5,000 prospects and generated only six sales leads.
Dave Nelson, Wingra's director of marketing, quickly decided he needed to bring in direct marketing professionals to create the next campaign.
From 6 Leads to 344
Wingra set its new campaign objectives based on the response to its last mailing. Its goals were to generate 50 qualified leads that netted one or two sales (the average price for Wingra's software and service is just over $100,000).
We first analyzed Wingra's previous campaign against the classic direct mail formula: The product, list and offer each have about a 30-percent impact on response while the creative has about 10 percent.
We concluded that Wingra's product was excellent and the list of 5,000 names was right on target. That left the responsibility for the poor response to offer and creative. Wingra's mail piece had no offer and the creative contained very few direct-response techniques.
In creating a new direct mail campaign, we spent a lot of time crafting a sound offer—and it paid off. The campaign offered a free report titled: "The 10 Most Common Mistakes Enterprises Make When Migrating Between E-mail Systems." This offer would automatically qualify those prospects who had either just changed e-mail systems or were planning to do so in the near future.
Once the offer was developed, we created a three-tiered campaign. Each tier was mailed one week after the other. A three-tiered campaign was feasible with a high-priced product.
The campaign went to 5,000 information technology executives with titles such as CEO, e-mail administrator, etc.
Tier one included:
• A two-page, one-color testimonial letter, written by an information technology industry analyst.
This highly personalized letter (lasered on the analyst's letterhead) was hand-signed and the envelopes were hand-addressed.
• A live first-class stamp on the outer envelope, which featured the return address of the analyst.
• A BRC.
We even mailed the 5,000 letters from Palo Alto, CA, so the postmark would be from the same ZIP code as the industry analyst.
Was the personalization expensive? Yes, but it was more than worth it. Plus, we saved a lot of money by not using four-color printing; not using expensive paper stock; having simple graphics and no original artwork or photos. We took that savings and spent it on something that we knew would work: personalization.
The response and projected payout were so strong that it more than justified the cost of personalization. "I knew that our prospects receive a mountain of mail … we needed something that would stand out. This worked," Nelson adds.
Tier two consisted of:
• A two-page, three-color letter from Wingra's president, Jan Eddy.
• A live first-class stamp on the outer envelope.
• A BRC.
Tier three contained:
• A three-color double postcard mailed first-class.
• A tear-off BRC.
• Ink-jetted addresses.
Why it Worked
It wasn't one or two techniques, but a combination of seven proven techniques that created an extremely successful campaign. Here's what we did and what you can try as well.
1. Use a multi-tier approach. We knew after three tiers whether or not a prospect was a solid lead.
2. Offer a free premium. We created a premium that, if requested, qualified the prospect. It saved Wingra time on qualifying leads.
3. Solicit a testimonial letter. It's one thing to toot your own horn—it's another if someone else does it for you.
4. Write copy using proven direct-response techniques. Direct-response copy works no matter what industry you're in.
5. Identify the most compelling benefits and features. We did our homework to identify the top three benefits and features and then spelled them out clearly in all three tiers.
6. Personalize letters. This technique is labor intensive but delivers the results for b-to-b marketing.
7. Use a BRC. Ninety-three percent of Wingra's leads came in by BRC vs. the phone, fax or e-mail. For most campaigns, they are an absolute must.
Liam Crotty is a partner in Crotty & Manesis, a Lake Mills, WI-based marketing communications firm. He can be reached at (920) 648-4000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.