We didn’t know there was a micro-marketing fan club out there when we wrote “How micro-marketing can deliver macro results” last month. But now we sure do.
In case you missed it, the August column touted the value of sending one piece of communication to one person (or a relatively small group), such as an old-fashioned, signed letter dropped in a mailbox. We’ve used that technique successfully, along with similar e-mail missives, and now we know we’re not alone.
“I can attest to the approach,” wrote Ron Deitch, CEO of The Burling Group, a retained executive search firm based in Chicago. In 2008 he wrote a letter to the chief human resources officer of MillerCoors, the beer company, which was moving its headquarters to Chicago. “Not only did I get a phone call from his office, but it began the process that has given our firm preferred vendor status for executive searches.”
Travelocity.com founder Terrell Jones is another fan of micro-marketing. When he owned a travel agency, Jones told us in an e-mail, he picked up 50 postcards during a trip to Moscow. His greeting, “Hi, from the Russia travel experts,” was handwritten on the postcards, which were then mailed from Moscow to senior executives of major companies in the U.S. And there was a request, too: “We’d like to see you when we get back.”
Guess what? “Because they were postcards and not form letters,” Jones told us, “they got by the CEOs’ secretary. We got to see many execs who appreciated our interesting slant on getting in the door.”
(Jones is now a principal at Essential Ideas, a consultancy he co-founded to help companies succeed in a digital world, and where he no doubt employs micro-marketing from time to time.)
Other successful micro-marketing ventures we’ve heard about employ similar principles and sometimes go beyond. Not every message can incorporate every principle, but the more the better. (For more about direct mail, visit www.productivestrategies.com/direct-mail.cfm.) Here are a few to keep in mind:
1. Make it personal. The message and the medium both count. Search firm CEO Ron Deitch wrote a personal letter to a senior executive he knew would need some extra, expert help in moving a corporate HQ to a new city. Deitch knew he could deliver value, and he said so. Travel postcards are personal in themselves. It would take an especially watchful gatekeeper to throw one out that was handwritten and mailed from half way around the world.
2. Deliver value. In last month’s column, we explained how the letter we wrote to a senior executive was not only personal but also delivered value directly. We gave the executive current, new information that addressed an important problem he articulated in a newspaper interview. He responded by asking us to meet with him, and that eventually resulted in a long-term engagement. We developed a customized sales process for the company and trained its sales reps in consultative selling skills for several years. Learn more about sales training here.
3. Be creative. Easier said than done, right? Yes, but “creative” doesn’t have to mean over the top. After another trip to Russia, Terry Jones followed up his “Greetings from Moscow” postcards with another targeted mailing piece to key executives. “Passport to Russia” was emblazoned on the front along with the recipient’s name, and it looked very much like a passport. Inside were realistic-looking country stamps and information about Jones’ travel agency. He sealed it with a gold sticker and mailed it without an envelope. That got attention, and meetings, too.
4. Be memorable. Several years ago when the Sarbanes Oxley legislation passed, one of our clients, a major accounting firm, mailed stuffed toy monkeys to prospects with the provocative phrase: “Have you got that Sarbanes Monkey Off Your Back Yet?” When our call center followed up to set appointments, we invariably heard from the gatekeepers something like “Yes, we received it, and my boss took it home to give to his grandson.” Or it’s on the boss’s desk or even on the gatekeeper’s desk (after the boss saw it, we’re sure). The monkey grabbed attention the first time around and still had a good grip the second time, when we called to set an appointment. And you can bet when our accountant client’s partners stepped through a prospect’s door, monkey business was the icebreaker and an entertaining transition into what our client’s firm could do about it.
5. What else? Let us hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org. How have you or your reps gotten in the door with imagination, skill, perseverance, or even luck? And, yes, we do believe in luck, especially the kind described by actor Denzel Washington: “Luck is where opportunity meets preparation.”
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 email@example.com.