How micro-marketing can deliver macro results Featured

7:59am EDT July 27, 2010

Philip S. Krone, founder and president, Productive Strategies Inc.Each new generation of human

beings seems to team up with each new generation of technology in mysterious

ways that change human behavior.

Take communication, for

example. From telegraph to telephone to television to telecommunications, we

have come to communicate faster and faster. Though some say that true

human-to-human contact has diminished in the process, it’s hard to argue that

our “faster” communication isn’t also “better,” especially from a business

point of view.

Take selling. The backwoods

peddler sold one on one to individual families carrying his goods on a horse.

The traveling “snake-oil” salesman went more efficiently from town to town,

huckstering groups from a ramshackle platform on the village square. Direct

mail and calling campaigns have sold all sorts of products and services to all

sorts of people at all sorts of hours. And, of course, we all know how

mass-marketing blitzes inspire millions of us to line up for “great deals” at 4

a.m. in the dark and, sometimes, stormy night.

Smart Business spoke to Philip S. Krone at Productive Strategies, Inc.

about micro-marketing and bringing the personalized element back into the sales


Where are we today?

Today, in addition to other

approaches, we are communicating via ‘micro-marketing,’ or trying to. Considered

a new method by some marketers, micro-marketing essentially targets small

segments or even individuals with tailored products or services.

Social media have in fact

opened up a whole new channel for getting face to face with individual

prospects and customers without actually being face to face in the same office

or meeting room. But mom-and-pop businesses have long been micro-marketing to

prospects and customers in their immediate geographic areas.

While we find the new social

media channel valuable, we also find that a longstanding social,

micro-marketing medium still gives us solid results: the occasional letter

delivered in an envelope with a stamp or even just metered.

One of our largest and

longest running accounts came to us in exactly that way. A comment in the

newspaper (yes, newspaper, and it wasn’t all that long ago either) prompted me

to write a snail-mail letter to a high-level executive at a major utility

company. He responded with an invitation to talk, and we taught their

salespeople consultative selling for five years as a result.

How does it work?

The key is for the letter to

be sincere and to strike a nerve.

That means the first sentence or two must refer to something specific that will

catch not only the attention of the target but also the attention of the

gatekeepers. And, remember, low key is better than keyed up.

Not: ‘Wow! The recent award you received shows that you

and your company really are the greatest! It didn’t get anywhere near the news

coverage it should have.’

What’s wrong with this

approach? Essentially, it doesn’t deliver any value to the recipient and

doesn’t include anything to spark a response.

Instead: ‘You were recently quoted in the Tribune as saying about your company that “global expansion

is important but growing our key domestic markets is essential.” Just this past

quarter our local distributors in your key markets of Illinois and Indiana have

found that face-to-face interaction is becoming more and more effective in

several, perhaps surprising, locations for your products.’

This approach is much better

because it’s specific and delivers value to the recipient. Face-to-face selling

is working in specific markets.

This kind of micro-marketing

letter should contain a subject line at the top that itself delivers value and,

if possible, sparks immediate interest. For example, ‘Re: Illinois and Indiana

see surprising growth.’ And the letter should always be signed personally in

blue ink. (Black is too serious and ‘legal’ in nature.) 

E-mails can be used in a similar way, but

individual letters have worked well for us. Busy executives too often delete

e-mails whose senders they don’t recognize, and high-level e-mail addresses can

be tough to get. In most companies, at least, a human being has to actually touch

a letter before throwing it away — or pausing to second-guess that decision and

just sending it up the ladder to where we want it to go.

So, when I see a potential

major opportunity that truly interests me, and that our services can support

effectively, I often write a letter and drop it in the mail. It’s

micro-marketing that can deliver macro results.

Naturally, we also use direct

mail in many other ways, often in combination with calling campaigns to set

appointments for our clients. If you’d like more of our thinking on

micro-marketing, or other business-building topics, just give us a call. We’d

love to talk with you one on one and, eventually, maybe even face to face.


Philip S. Krone is the

founder and president of Productive Strategies, Inc., a 17-year-old Northfield,

Illinois-based management and marketing consulting firm. Productive Strategies

provides clients with particular expertise in sales process development, lead

generation and appointment setting, marketing and marketing communications.

Phil can be reached at (847) 446-0008 ext.1 or