What is the best offer in a B2B direct marketing program? Why should you care? How can you tell?
We’ll answer the second question first. You’ve heard the old saw, “In direct response marketing, list is responsible for 40% of the success, the offer is worth another 40%, and the creative comes in at 20%.” Those numbers are probably not true anymore, since they were developed as a result of millions of pieces of inexpensive direct mail testing by the publishing industry, who were responsible for most of the “junk” mail we used to receive years ago.
But the fact does remain, the offer is what makes people respond to a direct-marketing piece, be it electronic or something that goes through the US mail. In business to business marketing, or B2B as it is familiarly called, the offer is often information.
Information is king
Information makes a great B2B offer because it is often what a prospect needs to take the next step in evaluating a B2B product or service.
But information can come in many forms. It can be a video, a podcast, or a brochure. It can be a conversation with an expert. Or a webinar. It can even be a game.
In business, people who evaluate products or services have constraints on their time, and are pulled in many directions. So an offer of information can be most effective if it is perceived to be authoritative, useful, not a heavy sales pitch, can be consumed quickly—and (bonus!) even fun to experience (that’s where the game comes in).
In professional sectors, where continuing education is often required to keep up a prospect’s certification or other credentials, information that fulfills the continuing education requirement while it also informs the prospect about a product or service can be effective.
Know your market segments
As in any marketing or direct marketing effort, it pays to understand your target market—and to segment that market into the key subgroups that can be addressed uniquely. For example, one of Verdi’s clients markets into a professional area in which important decision makers have very different backgrounds and needs. One segment is interested in increasing productivity while reducing costs. Another segment (equally important to the buying decision) is interested in reliability, service, ease of installation and compatibility with other systems. The same offer would never be of interest to both of these key groups. So where possible, we version their marketing with different offers designed to appeal. And when that’s not possible we give them a choice of two.
Offer testing pays off
In B2B the mail/email quantities are often not robust enough to provide a valid platform for offer testing, but the good news is that often the markets we target in B2B do not change rapidly. This means with continual promotion (if we are careful to measure it every time) we can spot trends in response, and since the list often does not vary—we can place the credit (or blame!) on the offer. We have seen a difference over time of as much as 100%+ improvement that rewards the time and effort we have devoted to coming up with the best possible offer to entice each audience segment to respond.
The advantages of a clever offer
A great information offer—in the form of a case study or video, if it’s brief, authoritative and clear is a go-to offer for just about any B2B prospecting effort. But if in addition it’s witty, clever, unique, or memorable—then you can hit the trifecta—it will not only earn a response—it may well also be forwarded (garnering you referrals!)—or posted, retweeted, or otherwise appear on social media that will more than reward you for your effort. We love it when that happens!