Marketing Gimmicks Will Not Sell Your Product

December 23, 2010

Marketing Musings

I recently had the pleasure of shocking/horrifying everyone at the office with the declaration that our fantastic, original, beautiful direct mail piece is not going to sell our product. It was all the more shocking, because the design of this mail piece was mine from the start. And it is fantastic, original and beautiful. It will generate leads for us (my goal is an ambitious 10% response rate, though I’m secretly hoping for something closer to 15%).

It will not make us any sales.

What did you say?
My argument was so shocking, I believe, because I have different goals for the campaign than the others in the office. They believe that the goal of marketing is to get people to buy. While true, this is not precise. Words do not sell a product. Things do not sell a product. Relationships sell a product. This is what sales people are for. Marketing is only there to match the right people to Sales where they do their smoozing magic.

Direct mail vs. Digital marketing
My Powers-That-Be appreciate digital marketing far more than direct mail for all the right reasons – it’s more agile, inexpensive and track-able than print advertising or, really, anything in print. Direct mail typically tallies a 0%-2% response rate. Digital can go well into double digits, depending on the target list and channel (email, website, banner ad, etc).

The plan
This campaign is different from anything we’ve done before. Oh, we’ve done direct mail before … postcards, letters, catalogs. And they get the typical response. Zero response just bugs me. Why bother at all? This piece though… it’s special.

  • It is 3D – which will get the package opened (and not recycled while still in the envelope)
  • It’s fun and relevant to our target’s business – something they’ll keep and use for a long time
  • The scope is limited – and there’s the thing that shocks my fellow sales and marketing folks.

A present in the mail may entice the recipient to take an action, but I guarantee that action is not going to be a signature on a contract. No one is going to buy a product for thousands of dollars because we send them a $10 trinket. I don’t care how cool the piece is.

So, let’s try again. Realistically, the mail piece will catch people’s attention. What can we do with their attention? What ACTION can get get them to take? Visit our website.

Ok, we got them on our website, they’re browsing around – what ACTION can we (realistically) get them to take next? Fill out a form with their contact information to download more information.

Great! Now we know who’s checking us out. Now we can focus on building a relationship with people who are open to a relationship.

Moral of the story? Baby steps
Each step needs to be precisely designed to get your prospect ONLY to the next step. Try to do too much, and you’ll lose them either from disinterest – because you weren’t able to make your case adequately in such a limited time/space – or confusion from too broad of a message.

Marketing should never try to sell a product. That’s Sales’ job.

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One Response to “Marketing Gimmicks Will Not Sell Your Product”

  1. Ruth Ferris Says:

    This applies to so many things, including education.


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