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Open More Doors with Dimensional Mail

Want high response rates on a budget? Reach your top business-to-business prospects with dimensional, direct-mail pieces.

For business-to-business marketers, finding a way to get past screeners and reach well-qualified prospects has always been a major challenge. Now, a lesser-known mode of direct marketing--dimensional mail--is producing record-high response rates for smart marketers nationwide. Last year, dimensional mail averaged the highest overall response rate, at 5.49 percent, of any direct response medium, according to the Direct Marketing Association's Response Rate Report, with campaigns for some businesses yielding astronomical response rates of close to 16 percent. (The average response rate for other direct mail last year was just 2.73 percent.)

What exactly is dimensional mail? For one thing, it's not flat, and it typically arrives in a box or a tube. Consumer marketers selling cereal or soap, for instance, have traditionally used boxed mailings to send product samples to thousands of consumers at one time. Unfortunately, only extremely deep-pocketed companies can employ this form of sampling to reach wide consumer audiences. The good news is, when used to target business-to-business prospects, dimensional mail campaigns can be dramatically effective in producing results from small, well-qualified, in-house prospect lists. So if you're a B2B marketer who wants to influence a group of 100 prospects or less, dimensional mail is an affordable and effective choice.

Follow these three tips for creating your own dimensional mail campaign:

1. Pre-qualify your list. Because mail that arrives in a box can be hard to resist, dimensional mailings are rarely discarded or opened by screeners, making them a great way to get your sales materials seen--and noticed--by your prospects. And although dimensional mail has a higher per-unit cost than simple flat mail, the cost for your overall campaign can be kept within modest bounds by mailing or hand-delivering your boxes to a very small group of prospects. It's therefore critical to get your mailings in the right hands.

Begin by reviewing your company's database and selecting your top B2B prospects. Do everything you can to clean and pre-qualify your prospects list, including making multiple phone calls to each business on the list until you're satisfied you've found exactly the right decision-makers.

2. Create a memorable campaign. In order to open doors or move prospects further along in the sales cycle, your dimensional mail pieces have to be clever and demonstrate how you'll meet your prospects' needs. So tie your campaign in with your company's overall marketing messages and copy platform so the campaign builds on and reinforces those ideas. And in these days of heightened security, particularly within larger companies, be certain your boxes are well labeled, even if they're hand delivered.

What should you put in your box? It all depends on the message you want to convey. Just be sure the object is something your prospects will want to keep, and even display, for a while. Avoid overdone advertising specialty items, such as imprinted mugs, and go for something unique. For example, a Washington-area speechwriter once sent a "relaxation kit" to targeted decision-makers at major PR firms. His box included an aromatherapy candle and a neck pillow with his logo on it, along with clever, illustrated instructions on how to use the kit for maximum relief--and the message imparted was that hiring him would relieve the stress of too much work. So take some time to think about just what objects would work with your primary message--and what objects your clients would find unique or useful.

3. Make follow-up a top priority. In most cases, the primary purpose of dimensional mail is to capture the attention of prospects and open the lines of communication. That makes immediate follow-up within one to three business days essential. If your dimensional mail is successful, it'll warm up your prospects and make them more receptive to your phone call. So send only as many pieces at one time as you can effectively follow up with--perhaps as few as five or 10 boxes a week. Of course, with the high response rate of dimensional mail, if your campaign is truly effective, prospects will soon be contacting you.

Kim Gordon is the owner of National Marketing Federation and is a multifaceted marketing expert, speaker, author and media spokesperson. Her latest book is Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars.
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