Before You Launch Drip Marketing, Nail Your Message
In the late 80s, I was Regional Sales Manager for a national database company that sold business intelligence and mailing lists primarily through onsite seminars and inbound marketing (pre-Internet marketing!) The company invested more than $50,000 in a contact management system that was programmed to spit out follow-up drip marketing letters every 7 days once a prospect identified himself.
The daily routine worked like this: Arrive at the office. Grab coffee. Data enter all the contacts we didn’t have time to enter yesterday. Code them by product interest (Check out my blog post on the 14 Ways To Segment Your Database – Part 1 and Part 2). Hand off our notes and slips of paper with only partial contact info to our Admin who looked up missing info in the phone book. Next we’d press the “today’s letters” button on the computer keyboard. Kerchunk! Kerchunk! Kerchunk! The CRM software queued up the three-tray printer with…
14 number 1 letters
16 number 2 letters
25 number 3 letters
18 number 4 letters
30 number 5 letters, and
Multiple sheets of #5160 Avery labels printed with matching addresses
For the next hour, my sales staff and I hand signed each letter. We wrote personal notes on many of them. Then we folded and inserted each letter into a #10 envelope, sealed the envelope, “licked and sticked” first-class postage and peeled off the address label to place it on the proper envelope (taking care to match the person’s name on the letter to the address label!) Then the mail carrier picked up our letters when he dropped off our daily mail.
And then drip marketing magic began…
Within a few days the phone would ring all day long. Prospects placed orders or requested more information. The fax machine hummed with completed registration forms for our upcoming seminars. Our conference room only held 15, so we’d fill up several seminars at a time. We were a sales organization that never had time to go on sales calls or make cold calls (we barely had time to go to lunch). We were too busy talking to customers and prospects who stopped by our office or called us.
When we did have to compete for business, our win rate was impressive. We were a national company with a local following, and we excelled at understanding our customers needs and staying in touch with them from their first inquiry, thru placing the order, to post-sale customer service. Our daily drip marketing activity was the linchpin in our sales processs. We loved stuffing those envelopes! It was guaranteed money in the bank.
When I started my own company, setting up my database was the first thing I did–even before I was officially open for business. There was never a doubt that drip marketing would be the cornerstone of my marketing. Consequently, my company actually made sales before I had to pay my first rent check.
Doing business today is tougher, there’s no doubt about it. The communication channels have evolved. Trying to connect can be a sales professional’s nightmare. Prospects (and even some customers) hide behind their voice mail, fax broadcasting has pretty much been outlawed, and direct mail is more expensive, and responses takes longer than email. Email is often ignored or sent directly to the junk folder.
Fortunately, one most important thing hasn’t changed: People still want to solve problems.
Back when I did drip marketing manually, there just weren’t that many marketing choices for BTB marketers. Phone calls and snail mail were pretty much it. Today, there are many more choices for marketers and for buyers. And buyers aren’t waiting around for us to educate them anymore–they’re doing sophisticated searches online to educate themselves and make their own buying decisions, often without you ever finding out they were in the market for what you sell. The pre-sales process is in hyper-drive, and as marketers, we’re the ones drinking from the firehose.
This velocity causes confusion for a lot of people. My friend, Martha Conway, calls it the “message vs. mechanics” dilemma. Martha is a veteran public relations expert who places authors, speakers and authorities on national TV and radio shows and gets their story into print media. She has seen this phenomenon thousands of times because it’s her job to figure out her clients’ USP–their unique service proposition–the interesting nugget that sets you apart from all the other people who do exactly the same thing you do.
Martha says those with well defined USPs are the ones who ultimately influence their customers to buy. Once the message is in place, “no matter what mechanic you employ, you’ll have success.”
How do you define your USP so you can add drip marketing to your arsenal today that resonates with your target audience? Have you nailed down your USP yet? If not, give Martha a call before you commit to any drip marketing campaigns. If so, how did you do it? Who was involved in the process besides you? How long did it take you? Please share your ideas.