Direct Mail Still Critical to Successful Big Company Lead Generation

There is one application where direct mail still dominates and flourishes.

The volumes are low and the lists highly qualified. And that is in the area of Business-To-Business (B2B) lead generation for large ticket services or products.

In this age of rightsizing, realignment and relentless change, executives must protect their time. They are averse to any form of change or risk taking.  They react negatively to traditional sales approaches where salespeople waste their time by trying to be friends before selling their worth.

Gatekeepers are rewarded for keeping non-essential calls and emails away from their bosses. And those gatekeepers sometimes will allow you to email them so they can forward your email. But even gatekeepers are protecting their email addresses by insisting that you send your information via the US Post Office.

And you can pretty well forget about engaging decision makers on the phone without going through a number of hoops. Companies have designed ever more powerful sales people filters.

Let's face it. Many sales people will give up at this stage.

Reaching high level executives with any medium has challenged the best marketing minds for years. And direct marketers with just a few years of experience have tried them all.

In an effort to simplify their lives or follow the latest trend, a number of companies have refused to test direct mail believing that online represents the future and that executives live there exclusively.

Ongoing testing proves that this hypothesis is incorrect.

Attempting to generate leads using online without a multichannel approach kills new product launches.

I have yet to see a sustained, quality lead generation program directed to C level executives that does not use or rely heavily on direct mail to set up qualified appointments. Give me access to direct mail and outbound telemarketing with zero online support (except for a well designed website or landing page) and I can beat online only programs for complex product sales.

Online only lead generation may seem inexpensive compared to direct mail and outbound telemarketing. And you might get a few sales in the beginning. But online only quickly looses steam.

Direct mail with outbound telemarketing, on the other hand, will give you deeper penetration and ultimately a lower cost per sale.

In fact, direct mail often represents the core medium with support from online and outbound telemarketing.

If you want to cut through the clutter in the B2B lead generation category, then direct mail will play an important role in successful, long term lead generation directed to large corporations. Why?

  1. Direct mail gets attention and cuts through the clutter of online marketing without multichannel support -- especially 3-D packages. 
  2. If well done, direct mail bypasses all but the most obsessive gatekeepers.  
  3. Direct mail now has greater credibility and brand building qualities than email for generating new B2B business. 

Unlike most business-to-consumer direct mail, businesses with high average sales for products or services continue to use direct mail unabated regardless of the postal rate increases.

I realize that that multichannel lead generation alone is no guarantee of success. Critical issues such as the messaging, value proposition and worth creation are subjects for other posts to come.

What are your thoughts about what it takes to reach high level decision makers today?

Posted on June 17, 2011 and filed under Branding, Lead Generation.