Mr. Marketing: Headhunting for customers
By Rob Weinberg
Ever developed a funky promotion?
— Lee Chaplin, Escondido
Several. My favorite involved shrunken heads when I ran an in-house marketing agency for a troubled optical manufacturing firm. Though they employed nine manufacturer’s representatives nationwide, customer outreach rarely connected with the target.
We faced the challenge of customers ordering information from six potential suppliers, reviewing two, and making their buying decision.
As engineers, customer mindset was typically binary — on or off. If they liked option two and our mailing was number three we were ignored. We needed to jump from the mailbag and scream “PAY ATTENTION!”
My solution: a mailer incorporating a rubber shrunken head in a large white box.
The personalized letter stated; “THIS is what remains of Mr. Jones — ABC Company’s purchasing agent. Mr. Jones needed a borescope for a critical project and purchased it from another firm. The scope failed at a key point. Hoping to avoid embarrassment, Mr. Jones escaped to a ‘deserted’ island. Don’t let this happen to you!”
It then pointed the recipient to their regional representative for additional information.
Sadly, the company’s president didn’t understand the creative concept. He examined the head, the letter, and me and said (I’m not making this up) “I don’t get it.”
Perhaps other engineers wouldn’t have gotten it either. Yet my gut said sales prospects would reach for the large box first because it was different, and the contents would have shaken recipients by the scruff of the neck.
Even if the package didn’t generate an immediate response, light bulbs would go on when the sales reps said “shrunken head” during a follow-up call.
Today’s economy seems to have deleted most creative marketing efforts in favor of doing the tried, the true, and the safe. Mailers, ads and promotions increasingly seem alike as marketers — desperate to make every dollar count — fear risk.
This results in every business looking alike, with little reason to choose one product over another. Everyone says “better service,” “better prices” and “better quality.” And when everyone looks similar…YAWN!
My advice: Develop your next marketing effort by carefully examining competitors’ activities. Try taking risks and create something really funky to force customers to pay attention to you. The results might surprise you.
With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.
Mr. Marketing specializes in developing unique marketing solutions and profitable results. Get his personalized attention at www.askmrmarketing.com.
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