You’ve Got Mail: How to Creatively Engage Business Execs with Direct Mail

Picture your perfect B2B customer. You know, the executive buyers who make the calls and control the budget. If you convince them to buy, you’ll convince the rest of their team. So in the age of modern marketing, how do you peak their interest? For many B2B brands, sending a premium direct mail campaign is an effective option when the odds of breaking through their email inbox are just too small.

To be a modern marketer, you have to demonstrate meaningful results (I’m looking at you, impression-based marketers). But, asking prospects to call you is a bit of stretch — so a more realistic goal for your campaign might be to get them from your print campaign to a landing page ASAP. Why? So you can measure your response rates, ask them to take the next step, etc.

In this blog, let’s explore some creative direct mail campaign ideas along with a sniff test for good/bad campaign ideas.

Let’s start with a few great examples of B2B direct mail to get your creative juices flowing:

  1. The Mystery-Reveal
    In this type of campaign, intrigue is the motivator, getting people to take the big step from offline to online. I see plenty of brands get the mystery/intrigue right but fail in the online experience. What’s the trick? You have to connect the theme or mystery to your solution. Resist the urge to use a kitschy bait and switch. The audience should, in some way, be aware that they’re engaging in a branded experience. The key is getting them to believe it’s worth it to play along all the way through. It’s about business/professional value. Our agency recently created a campaign that featured fortune cookies with personalized URLs (ex: “Discover your fortune at <website>/your-name”). The personalized landing page then asked our audience to take a free software trial. Personally, I’ve yet to see my name printed on the inside of a fortune cookie. Have you? I’d want to know what was at the other end of that string, and we believe our audience will too.
  2. The Most Exciting Paper Marketing: Cash
    Before content was king, cash was king. Imagine opening up an envelope at work to find $50. I’ve seen at least two campaigns that used this exact approach: sending a thoughtful letter alongside some cash with a simple message — take a meeting with our team. In the end, the rarity of this approach also has something to do with the intrigue.
  3. Get Sophisticated with Technology
    Given the central use of marketing automation platforms and CRM systems today, marketers want to measure direct mail engagement digitally. We recently created a campaign for a client where we shipped actual tablet computers (around $200) to our audience with a custom app. When our audience opened up the kit, instructions told them about a secret video message on the internet-enabled (we purchased pre-paid internet) tablet. A simple swipe of the screen initiated a personalized, spy-themed video that put the viewer on a mission to meet with our client. The video was interactive — offering the ability to accept or decline the meeting from within the video. That campaign has seen a 36% meeting acceptance rate so far…not bad for a C-suite audience.

The concept stage is critical. So how do you know if your idea is a good one? Here’s a little sniff test (a.k.a. the “BS filter”) for your creative concepts that I use when reviewing our own ideas:

  • Your brand is one-of-a-kind. Is your idea? Stand out in a good way…don’t just copy an approach you’ve heard about. How is the DNA of your brand represented in the theme of your campaign?
  • Make your idea about your audience, not you. In the spy-themed example above, the storyline involves the head of a spy agency saying, “accomplishing this mission will require someone with your special set of skills.” It puts the audience into the story. Your audience needs to be the hero of the story — not you.
  • Make the CTA clear and easy. Would you do this? Don’t ask for any more than you need — and make it as easy as possible for your audience to play along. Not sure? Test it internally on a fresh audience. If they have any hesitation or confusion, keep sharpening your pencil.

The truth is, securing an audience with an executive decision-maker for a high-consideration purchase decision often requires multiple communications from multiple channels (email, phone) — yet too many marketers neglect the power of personalized, premium direct mail as a powerful B2B campaign tactic.

The most important factors in planning are right-sizing your concept and your request to your brand and the value of your solution. Like any other campaign, you’ll need a powerful message and a crisp presentation to expect any results. And to measure any results, you’ll need to get creative — and disciplined — about how you track your campaign.

So, how do you get started in developing the big idea for your brand?

Let’s brainstorm together.