What’s a typical response rate for personalised B2B direct mail?

What’s a typical response rate for highly personalised B2B direct mail? What provider would you work with? I’ve heard of Enthusem and Pebblepost.
It’s a well designed card with their logo, name or website on it.

Logo for Enthusem

Logo for Enthusem

Your response rate for B2B direct mail depends on a couple of things

  1. What you’re selling and whether the recipient has heard of you or has the need right now for your product/service.
  2. If you are already known, you can get response rates over 10%, particularly if you are trusted.
  3. One way to improve your “response rate” is to do a follow up by telephone to check they got the message and to elicit a reply verbally.
  4. You will get the best results by working with someone experienced in Direct Response Mailings. This is a skilled position – do not expect high % returns without expertise in creating the mailing asset. If you’re inexperienced buying direct mail services, I suggest meeting a few agencies for a “Chemistry” meeting where they will show you their work and ask you about your business needs. This will educate you about the process and likely outcomes.

Lastly, both the services you suggest seem good, I’ve not used them. But a competent Direct Marketing Agency (like Creative Agency Secrets) will do a similar job of customised direct mail pieces as these businesses. Which may be much cheaper. It depends on how big your database is as to which is a good / cheap option.

We use our 8 Step New Business Development process and each has a category – this blog post is related to Step 2 – Marketing Communications and Step 3 – New Business Pipeline

Click on the icons to see more posts in each category.

Symbol for marketing communications symbol for new business pipeline

 

 

This answer was first submitted on Clarity.fm

Google Alerts

How to Use Google Alerts to Drive Business

Google alerts are an extremely useful resource for promoting your business online. First of all, if you aren’t using Google Alerts to track your business, you’re missing a seriously useful hack. They are particularly handy for staying up to date with relevant and timely information regarding your business, so you can react immediately to any publicity or news as soon as it happens.

But that’s not all Google Alerts are good for…

Google Alerts can also be used via RSS as a news aggregator on your website or blog! This is particularly useful for showing your visitors you know what is happening around you as well as demonstrating a position of authority with regards to your particular topic. Displaying the latest, relevant news results provides a great reason for your fans to continue returning to your site. Tailored, niche content is much easier to digest when it is a subject aligned with your own browsing interests. It may even help increase the likelihood of your visitors purchasing from you!

The best part about this is it can be totally automated, so you don’t have to spend time curating material. But make sure you have tested and refined your alert keywords in order to get the best results. Or, be sure to check the results from time to time in order to filter out anything that doesn’t fit with your brand.

We will be putting together a guide explaining how to get Google Alerts displaying as an RSS feed on your website shortly…

The next application for Google Alerts is a little more intricate: With a bit of research and a thorough understanding of your target market, you can even use Google Alerts to find new business!

Example: How to use Google Alerts to Generate Leads

Our client provides storage equipment solutions to the global rowing community. Although they can retro-fit single pieces of equipment inside an existing boathouse, their biggest projects come from clubs and organisations who have or are building brand new facilities. These new facilities obviously require a complete fit out of storage equipment and therefore, are our client’s ideal market. So how do you know when a new facility is built and looking for storage equipment? Timing is everything – if you find them too late, they may have already sourced a supplier and you’ll have missed the boat. Google Alerts provides the answer!

By setting up alerts with keywords such as “new rowing boathouse”, “rowing building new boathouse” and “new rowing club” for example, you get a nice summary of boathouse developments happening around the world.

Of course you have to continue your research beyond the alert itself to determine the lead’s value. Sometimes, results are completely irrelevant, and sometimes they are duplicates of material you have already covered. However, on the whole, they are incredibly useful at identifying future projects, as they are often newsworthy topics in their local area.

google alerts example creative agency secretsgoogle alerts example creative agency secrets

The next step is to track all your leads in a spreadsheet. Information such as who to contact and where they are located is particularly important. Additional research on the lead’s website often provides the necessary information to point you in the right direction.

In our client’s case, we were interested in contacting the architects of the boathouse, so that we could get involved with the club and their design process, as early as possible.

We have experienced great success building up a database of quality leads for our client in recent months. It is then up to our client to continue the dialogue with the prospective club and come to an arrangement. We have had a great deal of success converting these previously unknown prospects into happy customers, and have done so without investing hugely in advertising, outbound mailing campaigns or other conventional outbound marketing activities!

We have been able to minimise the time taken to research new sources of business through alerts and have increased the prevalence of new business, while making it easy to filter out results of no value. And as it updates you each time a new boathouse is being developed, you don’t waste time searching for them manually. A weekly check of your alerts inbox provides you with enough

Regardless of your industry or business, there’s bound to be a positive application to use Google Alerts for. Whether it is direct lead generation, building a database of bloggers and journalists to share content between, or even researching a network of businesses whose interests align neatly with your own, the uses for it go on and on.

How to Get Leads from your Business Website

This speech was given to the Grey Lynn Business Association on 10th June 2016.  It includes tips on testing how your website is working, 12 ways to make local marketing work including inbound and outbound marketing tactics.

Step three: New business pipeline

How well are you doing at winning new customers and prospects? Is it very important because your percentage success rate at winning opportunities has a direct impact on the number of opportunities that you convert paying customers.

symbol for new business pipelineEven a small improvement in your success rate will help you to make more money.

Step 3 in our Methodology is all about the steps prospects go through before they decide to buy from you.

Recent new business success

Let’s start by doing an analysis of your recent business successes. Go to your accounts software and print out a list of all of the invoices you have raised over the last six months. Make a note of the total sums payable by each individual and rank than by size so that you have the largest paying customers at the top of the page.

Now let’s have a look at some of the history of each of these customers or clients.

  1. How did you first get to know them?
  2. What dates did they first get in touch with you?
  3. What was the first opportunity they discussed?
  4. What was the final proposal to put to them? Was there a difference from 3 above?
  5. Who led the discussions?

Now let’s do the exact same thing for your existing prospects. You should have a list somewhere of all of the prospective new clients with whom you’re in discussion at the moment. Print that list out and answer the same questions as you did with your previous clients. Below is a form that you can use to fill out which may help you to order your thoughts for these.

Classify new business, lead sources,

Where does business come from?

Within your list of prospects may be some which are not yet concluded. Write down what’s the next step is towards bringing them closer to having a discussion with you and making a decision to buy.

How many biz dev stages are there?

A new business pipeline may have many steps, frequently there are common steps which all prospects go through. Usually for a B2B business they start with initial discussions, and you refine your offer and what the customer wants to buy, and you had a price and discussed whether they are prepared to pay for it, then you negotiate and then you either win or lose the business. It is a pretty standard sales funnel.

For B2C businesses the products are standardised and the steps have fewer reviews and revisions.

See if you can Identify what stage each of your current opportunities are at. Note: I put into an opportunity any discussion which has the potential to become new work – but I set it at a very early stage to reflect this.

Look for patterns in the data

What causes you to win business and what makes the sales funnel longer or shorter? Try to identify the causes of positive and negative situations in your sales funnel. These are areas to focus on – the ones which deliver faster revenues are worth focusing on.

If you have lost some opportunities recently, one tip I recommend is to ask a neutral third party to ring these people up and find out why you didn’t win the business. People will often be more honest than speaking to someone who does not work for the business. This can give you great insight.

Next time we’ll be looking at your business and brand profile and how to raise your profile.

Read the other posts from this series here!

Financial advisors – give me your contact details

Here in New Zealand giving a personal referral introduction for new clients is common.   And recently I

Not a mug

Not a mug

asked for help with some financial advice.  I was given three names.

Then I hit a wall.

None of the firms had the personal contact details of their team on the website.

Two people had Linked In profiles I could connect with – but of course, until they connect back to you it’s not possible to see their contact details.

I was left with the website telephone number as the only way to get in touch.

Make it easy for me

Please would you all make it plain and easy for me to get in touch with the named person?

Why is this hard?

Surely each person wants to get in direct contact so they can start a discussion with minimal delay?

3 New business pipeline icon7 Make New Biz Happen icon

Read more

Online marketing for accounting firms: a research summary

Accountancy firms are the backbone of the business economy serving every sector of the community. Business owners use their accountant to get advice and recommendations on a wide range of commercial issues. They are trusted advisors for New Zealand business.

Yet accountants often present themselves poorly online. They are difficult to find on the internet, their websites are dull, unremarkable, and aren’t easy to use for prospective clients who want to research and find an advisor.

The attributes of a good business website:

  • Findable on search engines for search phrases that relate to the industry or product not the business name
  • State the services or products offered in clear, non-technical language
  • Illustrates specialisms and points of difference for the firm
  • Helps guide the customer to the correct service they need
  • Enable the customer to get in touch with the business by a range of communication channels – including social media as well as traditional telephone and email
  • Name key members of staff and their contact details
  • Show office locations, ideally on a map

Every business uses some form of marketing promotion to bring in new clients and to keep current clients coming back for more.

A website is the linchpin of modern business marketing activity. Most other marketing work directs curious web searchers to the website. These days, who hasn’t got a business card without the firm’s URL?

Creative Agency Secrets has appraised a substantial amount of accountancy firms’ websites for evidence of current marketing and promotion activities within the industry.

 

Here’s what we found

  • Over one quarter of all firms surveyed do no marketing promotion aside from their website.
  • 38% have some basic promotion, normally in the form of a newsletter.
  • And at the other end of the scale 6% are very active and seek to engage website visitors and encourage them to get in touch with the firm.

Where does your firm sit on the proactive marketing scale?

Top performers include

  • Deloitte
  • Cabbage Tree Accounting
  • William Buck
  • Astill Hawke
  • DJCA
  • Gilligan Rowe

What sets these firms apart?

The best accountancy firms have several key attributes in common

  1. They are highly informative both on their business, what they offer, and their industry
  2. Their web pages maintain public resources for research and self-discovery
  3. The have prominent and recent communication activity using written, audio and visual media which engages readers and keeps them on the website
  4. They encourage the visitor to reveal his identity to the firm

Why do prospective clients find these factors appealing?

Imagine going into a shop for the first time – you browse around looking for the product you want to buy and at “just the right moment” a sales assistant steps forward and offers to help you. They guide you in an un-pushy manner to the product you want but stay on hand to answer any further questions you have. A modern website needs to do the same job for the firm.

But on a website a visitor is anonymous.

You have no idea who has visited your site – just tracking cookies and the number of visitors in your analytics. The Firm doesn’t know their names, what their interest is and whether they are looking to buy some accounting advice.

Social Media

Businesses are moving into the social media scene. Yet most accountancy firms have not taken advantage of the core social media sites.

twitter researchfacebook researchother social media research

Our research reviewed accountants’ websites for public links to social media sites. We expected to see LinkedIn used the most because it is the professional business social media site but we were wrong: 34% had LinkedIn pages; 34% had Twitter and 46% had Facebook profiles.

Firms with an active social media presence tended to also have higher scores in overall web presence and influence. There are many additional influencing factors and it is important to note that where a company is on social media, they also have invested time in YouTube videos, blogging, or email marketing as well.

We ranked firms comparing their activity on the web by assessing how often they updated their marketing activities and what tools they used to market themselves online. This shows that activity really does boost your noticeability as an accounting firm online. What’s more interesting about these results is the outlying firms with our assigned activity scores of 2, 3 and 4 who also have a good Alexa Rank which suggests that content is an important factor in gaining a prominent online presence.

Online Marketing Tools used by Accounting Firms

There are a lot of opportunities to display expertise using content marketing techniques online.

Newsletters

When searching there accountancy firms’ websites for newsletters, we looked at whether firms actively requested prospective clients’ email addresses, and the ways in which the firm used them. Many displayed historic newsletters but they were often displayed in PDF format which is less searchable or sharable.

Of those with newsletters, a significant amount website visitors had no way to subscribe to receive the news online. Giving visitors the ability to subscribe gets you their email address for a mailing list and analytics information about those visitors. Mailing lists are a great way to start a dialogue with customers by building a self-service database. An opportunity lost by these firms.

Opted in databases of email addresses are among the most powerful marketing assets a firm can own. They can even be used to deliver a series of emails called autoresponders. These can welcome new subscribers, give them an introduction to the firm, and explain its services.

Blogging

Many of the news pages or blogs for the accounting firms we researched are static and have not been updated for many months or even years. They have no clickability or linking to other pages in the website and they are created on a single web page. This means an individual article cannot be hyper-linked, only the whole page.

By creating a blog-style page, the opportunity exists to create more internal and external links to your site which again increases the chances for search engines to visit more frequently as well as encouraging visitors to browse across multiple website pages. This also provides opportunities for other websites to link to specific articles from you which ultimately lead the visitor to your website.

Videos

Larger accountancy firms host videos on their websites, mainly used for training. None have made use of online broadcasting technologies like webinars, podcasts or recordings. Video and audio recording is now cheap and easy to do. They are a good way to communicate and to enable listeners to share your content and are far more engaging than text.

Training

Many accountants provide training and conduct seminars for in-person attendance. It would be very easy to broadcast a training event or record it at the same time for later broadcast. Training is a fantastic marketing tool but if someone can’t make the event time, watching a recording means they can still gain value from it.

 

In Conclusion

Most accounting firms have the beginnings of a good website presence. However they need to add new functionality that works to continuously draw new visitors into the website from search, from the email database and to encourage them to reveal their identities and join in a dialogue with the firm. This can be enhanced by including social media in their marketing plans as they create more and more points of contact for potential clients, as long as you know your clients use social media to connect. LinkedIn is particularly good because of its professional nature.

If you’re an accounting firm looking for a free website appraisal, you’ll find one here at Creative Agency Secrets.

Get in touch with us.

5 Questions to ask a creative agency at your pitch

Interviewing the brand and being interviewed as the agency are core skills for pitching.

Getting to “the close” for new business and a signature on the contract requires a clear purchase decision from a brand decision maker.  If you are pitching to a brand – prepare for these questions that they should be asking you.

When you get invited to pitch there are 2 reasons you are in the room

  1. Your track record indicates you should be good enough to do the job
  2. Your future WILL deliver an excellent job
The questions are designed to reassure the brand marketing team that you will be in their future – collaborating, partnering.

Chief Marketing Officer pitch questions to agency

So how can you tell what the future of this agency will be?  the same old, same old competent delivery of past campaigns or new and exciting incremental creativity that will accelerate your brand in front of consumers?

First question: Vision

What do you, the agency, think is the future of marketing/advertising?

You want to know whether they are aware of new technologies, brands moving to new social platforms and integrating mobile solutions into their campaigns.

Second question: New Hires

Tell us about the new team members who have joined this past year.

What are the characteristics of these people and why did they join the team?  Are they crazy future-ologists, or competent deliverers.  Will they bring new expertise to the team (see answer to question 1 above) and can you see your brand leveraging their knowledge to advantage?

Third question: Team Structure

What is your creative team structure and composition?

Listen hard to how many ‘traditional’ job titles are described.  Find out about the digital specialists – are they in a separate group who get brought in to assist or are they part of the core delivery group.  What about outsourcing production and expert tool creation – how honest is the agency about areas in which they are not expert and are buying in talent.

Fourth question: Modern Marketing Communications

Tell us about recent campaigns that were not advertising-led

How many message delivery tools have they used that were not print or TV advertising, direct mail/email or public relations.  Look for innovation and incorporation of ‘gamification’, apps, integration with social media (leading edge at the time of writing is Pinterest, G+), brand collaborations and joint ventures.

Fifth question: The Delivery Team

Who will be working on our account and why?

The individual attributes of the core account team matter.  This will help you get round the agency that pitches with one team and delivers with another.  Why does the agency pick each individual and what are their skills – you’ve got to work with these people.  Go and check them all out on Linked In and Facebook.

The Agency’s reply 6 questions

We found this post from W+K London in which they tried to give the reciprocal questions the agency should ask the client.

  1. Who are the decision makers on the pitch and on the agency’s work?
  2. What are your criteria for judging the success of your agency’s work?
  3. Is your inclination to aim high and do something extraordinary, or to settle for the ordinary and avoid the risk of failure?
  4. What made you consider us for this pitch?
  5. How many agencies are pitching and who are they?
  6. Will you pay a pitch fee?

Go forth and pitch.  But be careful!

Thanks to Edward Boches for the original inspiration for this article

Read more articles on 3 New Business Pipeline and 6 Creating Opportunities from our archive.

 

 

Selling disguised as market research

Marketing Research with Tumblr

Business development tricks of the trade:

Have you ever tried disguising new business prospecting as ‘market research’?

Finding new customers to discuss your business products and services with is difficult for many people.  Many people have a natural fear of the unknown and ‘cold calling’ strikes a death-knell in many people’s darkest fears.

Let Creative Agency Secrets show you some of the insiders tricks of the trade –

and learn to find an easy way to discuss new business without the fear and pain.

We all need Market Research

Market research is a valid business activity – without it you cannot know what the market and pricing is for your services and products.   What few people realise is that many prospective customers are happy to give their advice and opinion to you, free of charge in the name of market research.  They are frequently motivated by the hope that if your situations were reversed, you would assist them.

Asking questions about how other people view your products is very easy to do.

Email introduction for market research survey

Imagine this – an email asking for 15 minute meeting to get an opinion about a new service offering.

Dear Rebecca, we’re planning a new email list de-duplicaiton service for launch in the autumn,  As a previous customer of XYZ co, we’d value your opinion on the features and pricing of this service.  

Could you spare us 15 minutes on a conference call to give us your views?If you have time next week, I’ll send over a short briefing note explaining our plans. 

Best wishes

Could you send something like that out?  Individually and personally addressed?  You could send it using Linked In using their mass-mail feature?  Maybe add in a ‘poll’ if you want a voting response (though this is less personal).

Case study – market research for affiliate consulting services

One of our coaching clients has plans for a new environmental consultancy around carbon credits. The two partners in the business have found a service they want to sell and asked our advice about pricing.

We recommended contacting prospective customers and seeking meetings or phone conversations with them to do market research into their appetitie for this service.

Not only does this approach allow a direct conversation with a possible decision-maker; it allows you time to explain exactly what your product/service does and how the customer might benefit. They listen carefully because it’s a ‘market research’ dialogue not a sales pitch.

Nice, eh?

 

Additional thoughts

Our client is a busy lady who works in 2 businesses – building up the new one while running the existing one. We discussed how she prioritise her time. Our conclusion was that if she could specify the 3 questions needing answers from the market research, her business partner could do the calls and visits. In this way she can ‘direct’ the work but spend her time on the other, income-generating business while still progressing developments on the new venture.

See other articles about Pipeline development and Opportunity creation by searching the categories on the right.

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Cold email introduction – copy this campaign

Want to use cold emails as part of your customer acquisition?  We get dozens of approaches by digital media agencies usually picked up by our clients’ spam filters.

Today we’re publishing one of the better ones as a crib for you to copy for your own use if you want to buy email lists and try to start working cold call emails for your B2B brand.

Here’s the copy

Subject: Oneupweb would like to work with you

Cold Email example text

What do you think?

A short, neat message.  Starts with reassurance – do what you’ve always done.  But we all know how that sentence ends…. “and you’ll get what you’ve always got.”

Nice use of the word “earn” in the second sentence – they are going to work for you to gain trust.  I like that.

The words for the services list are all hotlinks with custom tracking codes – good practice to see where your campaign is working.  I clicked on the link and it took me to a standard page… no special landing site after the page had rendered using the tracking code.

Bullet points

A neat filtering tool is used here.  By quoting fees or likely media costs for services, they filter out any brands who can’t afford to pay $2,000 per month for Search Marketing or $15k for social media campaigns.

Be attracted by the big names they’ve worked for but be put off by the fees = you are not my target customer.

Interesting that it came in to my private email address.  It’s a dot com so maybe the list buyer figured I must be in USA and it’s a long-registered domain (2001 approx) and short so again, it maybe didn’t filter me out for being a person not a business.

Call to action

A question as a call to action is a subtle approach.  Do I think next week is a good time to talk?

Enough time to get into my diary and a question that can be easily answered.  Interestingly, no easy-call buttons for direct line phone numbers added here.  Wonder why?

Footer has company contact information and the usual range of social media links plus an unsubscribe.

What happens next?

We sent a reply – will let you know what happens next.

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