Nuts & Bolts: Book Club
July 1, 2007

What “Managing Sales Leads” (The Thompson Corporation, $39.95) lacks in style, it certainly makes up for in substance. Pick it up for its action-oriented checklists and chapter summaries as well as a thorough (three chapters worth!) analysis of why sales leads are “the lifeblood of every company.” Bear in mind, however, that giving it a full read will be a commitment—its information-packed but sometimes repetitive sections require complete attention and engagement on the part of the reader. There’s no denying that author James Obermayer is a true authority on the subject of lead management, however, his scope of knowledge is so dense that it

Fulfillment: At Your Request
July 1, 2007

A sure way to fire up results for your fulfillment program is to look for opportunities to better serve your leads during their information-gathering process. If two-thirds of consumers have reported they feel unsolicited marketing materials are not relevant to their needs, according to Yankelovich research from late 2005, can you imagine the level of expectation for respondents who have requested further contact? By applying old-fashioned marketing strategy and leveraging today’s technologies, marketers can turn lead-generation data into customized fulfillment kits that are both more appealing to the recipient and helpful at moving the conversion process along. Data on Tap All customization processes start by assessing the

Fulfillment: Take the Greener Path
April 1, 2007

Typically, the front end of the direct marketing process garners the most attention from environmental rights and waste reduction groups, and with good reason. Americans receive roughly 4 million tons of direct mail per year, according to statistics on the Clean Air Council’s Web site. But the back end, or fulfillment side, of direct marketing also requires the manufacture of quite a few components essential for shipping product orders and lead fulfillment kits to customers and respondents: boxes, padded mailers, cushioning materials, etc. What’s more, these materials might not be as easily recycled by the recipient as unwanted direct mail. For example, most of

Think Outside the Box to Reduce Your Postage Costs
January 17, 2007

The new year marks a fresh start, a time for new beginnings. For the U.S. Postal Service, 2007 signals the end of its outdated rate system. In just a few months, the USPS is expected to overhaul its pricing structure. The current system uses weight alone to determine postage rates. Beginning in May, the shape of a mail piece also will affect rates, doubling postage in some cases. The new system will come as a shock to the unprepared. But many fulfillment companies have taken a proactive stance, educating their clients on the upcoming changes and offering cost-effective packaging options. “We’re starting the conversation now so they

Checklist for Processing In-store Returns of Online Buys
November 15, 2006

Online holiday shopping is expected to reach $24.3 billion this year, which means e-tailers with a retail channel should be gearing up for in-store returns of gifts that didn’t quite hit the mark with recipients. And since standing in line for excessive periods of time reduces the minutes customers have to spend their refunds in your store, consult the following checklist, developed by Chicago-based e-commerce consultancy the etailing group, to ensure you’re ready to keep the returns line moving. 1. Train store associates to handle online purchase returns before the holiday rush, so there’s no confusion in the moment. 2. Create a dedicated returns counter. 3. Offer

An Outsourcing Checklist
October 1, 2006

Whether you go through a formal RFP process or not, careful consideration of your requirements and the prospective fulfillment center’s capabilities to meet those requirements is necessary to making a decision that works for you and your customers in the long run. To end up with a fulfillment partner with which you are truly satisfied, please don’t short shrift this decision—spend the time necessary to make the right choice. If you don’t have the time or expertise internally to evaluate your options, consider hiring a consultant or other outsource selection professional to do this for you. The time to discover a fulfillment center cannot

The Mail/Call Center Connection
October 1, 2006

If you are looking for new ways to improve the results of your control mailing, you may be surprised to find the answer at your call center. A few small adjustments to your telephone approach sometimes can accomplish as much or more than a change in the copy or design of a winning mailing. Keep in mind that the net return from your mailing is the function of five things: • Your gross response (inquiry) rate; • the percentage of inquiries that actually become orders; • the average sales value of those orders; • the percentage of sales revenue you actually collect; and • the revenue you keep after

Do’s and Don’ts of Kits
October 1, 2006

A few mistakes to avoid along with some great ideas to implement if your budget allows: Do personalize or customize the kit in some way. When working with a longer sales process, it’s key to show prospects you are paying attention to the qualification information they have been supplying you, explains Lee Marc Stein, proprietor of Lee Marc Stein Ltd. Either recap the details you gathered via your lead-generation effort in your fulfillment kit letter or at least address the prospect by name. Don’t assume people will pore over every word, photo and component in the kit, notes Pat Friesen, president of Pat Friesen & Co.

What to Put in the Fulfillment Kit
October 1, 2006

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

Five Ways to Make Your Fulfillment Piece Irresistible
September 20, 2006

Do you plan to generate leads through a direct mail or e-mail campaign? Will you be offering a fulfillment piece that can be downloaded from your Web site or sent via snail mail? Then you had better use a little imagination and creativity! You see, the days of telling prospects that they can get a free whitepaper are over. At least for successful companies. The whitepaper, as an offer, is so overused, tired and flat, that I urge my clients to try something different. Let’s take a look at five ways to make your next fulfillment piece so enticing that prospects will just have to request