How Direct Mail Changed How I Sell

By James Kwon

I’ve been in sales for years, and have faced what feels like all the challenges that sales can come up against. One of the most difficult being initiating conversations with prospects who, though they might need a product or service that my company offered, don’t really want to talk with a salesperson. 

I was part of the team that came from North Star Marketing (NSM), the company who joined Figmints in May 2018. NSM had a great reputation for producing extremely effective outreach pieces referred to here as “high-impact mailers” (HIM). I had heard of this reputation as well as had seen response rates of these high impact mailers averaging 40% or more in campaigns that targeted everyone from small local companies to national brands. If you didn’t already know, a 40% response rate is unheard of in the marketing world. 

In addition to the stats, I’d been told that a prospect responded to a HIM saying: “I don’t feel obligated to meet with you because of the gift, I feel obligated because the concept is so smart that you must be worth my time for a meeting.” 

Even knowing all of the great statistics and anecdotes, I was skeptical. Prospects today are absolutely inundated with ads, offers, and pitches. So why would the simple act of sending something bigger sway them to want to talk to me? 

Sending them something that 1, gets their attention, and 2, moves them to take action is nothing short of miraculous, and I have to say, I experienced this first-hand prospecting on the heels of a HIM. 

My First HIM 

Early last year, we wanted to let sales leaders in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts know about our game-changing SalesAmp program. But we needed a way to cut through the clutter and encourage people to meet and talk business.

 As it turns out, the key was beer… or more accurately, the promise of beer. For those not familiar, a “growler” is a glass or ceramic container used to transport a quantity of draft beer. To get the attention of our target audience, we developed what we called the Growler Campaign. We sent empty 32 oz. growlers to 70 top sales leaders in the area and included information about our agency and our SalesAmp program. It’s not every day that you get a growler in the mail, so it’s a package that gets noticed! 

The message was clear: Let us help your sales team fill your pipeline using our SalesAmp approach, while we also filled your growlers. The call to action was to contact me and RSVP to an event at a brewery, during which they could load up the growler with some tasty brew. 

It’s Not a Cold Call When You’ve Already Broken the Ice! 

When calling people after they had received their growler, I was thrilled to find that the conversations were light and playful. People were intrigued by the gift and very open to having that elusive initial conversation. They also seemed to have a sense of obligation to at least chat briefly out of respect for the effort. It was not only the most fun I’ve had prospecting, but the most successful as well. 

There’s nothing like a clear demonstration of creativity and a sense of humor to warm people up to you. Sales leaders know that it takes innovation to get ahead in business today, and this campaign was a perfect example of just that. The campaign resulted in open, honest conversations about what they needed and how North Star could provide it, ultimately leading to new clients and revenue. 

Getting Past the Gatekeeper

One of the keys to success with a mailer, is getting past the loyal “gatekeeper,” whose job it is to keep salespeople at bay. A well-executed HIM tends to make it to the decision maker’s desk because the gatekeeper is intrigued and uncomfortable with just discarding it, most of the time just due to the sheer size of the mailer–it looks too important. In some cases during the Growler Campaign, the gatekeeper kept the piece, but it still served its purpose as they were impressed and much more willing to connect me to the decision-maker. 

Can You Say “Leads”? 

The reaction to our Growler Campaign was universally positive. Not only was it a unique gift, but it also had a clearly defined and witty connection to the idea of “filling the pipeline.” The theme showed that we understood the recipients’ pain points and that we could help alleviate that point. The best part? The Growler Campaign was not a “one-hit-wonder.” Our HIM campaigns have repeatedly proven their ability to get the attention of our target audience, including C-suite and senior leadership. We’ve achieved response rates as high as 95 percent.

Growler Math

Here are some of the results from our Growler Campaign: 

  • 33% of recipients accepted an invitation to the brewery event and a conversation about their needs.
  • Our largest new client acquisition last year was due to this campaign.

Which HIM Catches Your Eye?

What kind of HIM would get your attention? Check out our eBook to see some past examples and read about just how successful they were.

High Impact Mailer Examples