Keep It Personal – A True Success Story
One of the highlights of my career was when I received an email from a customer saying how lovely he thought the direct mail I’d just sent to him was. I’d sent out the mailer and he’d taken to his computer to email back just to pay this compliment. This is every marketer’s dream. But how did I manage it?
Working as a Marketing Manager at the time, supporting the sales team was at the heart of my role. As part of this, I regularly sat down with them to ensure my work stayed focused.
One day, the small sales team shared with me that they had a list of prospects they were trying to convert to customers. They were sure they could be great customers, but they couldn’t get them on the phone. I suggested that we needed a three pronged attack.
Make Your Leads Warm
Cold calling doesn’t really work. If someone has never heard of you, they’re unlikely to give you the time of day. You’ll have far more success if you warm the prospect up first. This is where I’m a big believer in the three pronged attack. It’s a method I’ve tried and tested with great success over and over again.
The first step is to mail someone – in the traditional kind of way. Whether it’s sending them a company brochure, a fancy direct mail piece, a leaflet or just a letter, they’ll be far more likely to see and take notice of something that has been delivered straight to them. Something they can physically touch.
Next is to send them an email (if you have the details and they’ve consented, of course). The point of this is to follow up the direct mail, making it all a story. But keep it all relevant.
Finally, give them a call. Just as the response rate to direct mail rises significantly if it’s followed by a call, you’re far more likely to get someone to speak to you if you’re following up on previous correspondence and they know who you are. It suddenly all has context.
So that’s the general gist of the three pronged attack. But that action alone isn’t enough. What you say makes all the difference.
Keep It Personal
I asked the sales team to clump together their prospects based on things they had in common. Whether it was based on products they used, problems they were experiencing, locations they were in or roles that they had, each ‘group’ had to have its own theme. Then for each group the sales team told me who these people were and gave me some details on each.
I wrote some notes, pulled some ideas together and then I started to type. All we sent to each individual person was a simple letter. But we made it as personal as possible. Using the theme of each group, I crafted a letter that was deliberately worded so it sounded as if the sales person was writing just to that recipient only. It was a letter to everyone in the group, but it sounded as if it was just to them. This act alone makes people feel like they matter. It makes them feel special.
I kept it in the voice of the sales person I was writing for, and I touched upon the real issues that the recipient was facing. It was simple, to the point, meant something, and wasn’t too salesy. It just detailed how that sales person could help. And made it clear that they really wanted to.
The final thing I then did was make sure I left it open for next actions. Rather than say: “Please get in touch if you need anything,” each letter instead said something along the lines of: “I’ll call you in a few days to discuss just how I can help with this matter.” It said they were going to call. It set expectation. And when they did call a few days later, they got through to more than 50% of all recipients first time.
In between this, we sent a quick email, dropping over the brochures and just ensuring that the prospect had everything they needed before the call. We referenced the letter and reminded them that we were going to be in touch. It was friendly, felt personal and said we cared.
This was one of the busiest roles I’d ever had. I didn’t have the time to regularly check on the results of this campaign. I had to wait for the monthly meetings to catch up on how things were going. But this changed one day when one of the sales team forwarded me on an email. It was from one of the prospects who had seen the letter. Just the letter. Just that one tiny piece of correspondence.
The man said how lovely it was to receive such a nice letter from a company. He praised the content highly and said that although he had no need for our services at present, he would come straight to us should that need change. It was such a wonderful email that he’d written, I had to read it several times just to believe it.
With a world of people trying to sell to us, whether directly or sneakily, I knew why this letter had worked. We hadn’t flogged our items and we hadn’t listed our USPs. We’d completely focused on the prospect and their needs, and we’d written to them as if they personally mattered to us. And they did. We really did care.
You can’t successfully build relationships with customers if you don’t know them. You need to listen and you need to care. You need to show them that they matter. If business is all about relationships, then it can’t possibly not be personal. So next time you’re writing your marketing content, remember that. The more personal you can make it, the better you’ll relate.