Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Planning B2B Mail to Win Decision-maker Attention

Business-to-business direct mail must leap basic hurdles to get through to decision-makers and prepare the way for sales. For one thing, there is usually a gatekeeper sorting the mail before it ever gets into the hands of a decision-maker/buyer. Getting past this gatekeeper means designing a mail package so it stands out and looks important/interesting, yet doesn't scream junk mail. Successful design tactics include dimensional mail and oversized formats (No. 11, 9X12 or 6X9 envelopes, for example). Then the copy (from teaser to letter) must do some heavy lifting. Studies have shown that, especially for the C-suite level, this means 1) focus on a topic that is significant to the target market, 2) provide a solution to a problem/pain point, 3) prove value with third-party endorsements, 4) intrigue with new information or perspective, and 5) as with any direct marketing, include a call to action--an attractive, time-sensitive offer. But probably the most important part of a B2B direct mail effort will be the list targeting. Selecting by industry and company size, based on profiling of best customers, is useful, but what about the title/department targeted? Here's where it gets trickier--especially when you move from the small business realm to the mid-sized or enterprise company where decisions involve multiple players. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Newly released research by LinkedIn, based on a survey of 6,000 buyers, marketers and salespeople in seven countries, shows the number of departments involved in a B2B purchase decision varies significantly by industry. As an example, the number of departments involved in buying ranges from 3.4 for the travel industry up to 4.6 for manufacturing. When it comes to which department is most influential, results again depend on industry and product. For example, promoters of marketing and advertising services tap the marketing department as the most influential in buying, while adtech products choose Finance as a top target, and online media platforms go direct to media and communications buyers. For details relevant to your B2B targeting, take a look at the LinkedIn report "Which Departments Influence Buying Decisions in Your Industry?" at

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