4 Steps To Get on The Short List
Winning the Battle of the Short List doesn’t necessarily require the use of mass media.
It does require a certain repetition of high-impact messaging for key influencers and decision makers.  But that can be achieved through the use of targeted mailings, rather than, say, radio spots.
Take the IT example from last week’s Theory Thursday column: if you knew that the short list for IT vendors was composed lower-down on the food chain than the CIO, for example, you could do exploratory work getting the contact info for those IT managers, and create a monthly mailing to them for your particular brand and service promises.
A mailing a month with relevant messaging and creative execution would certainly gain you top of mind awareness with those managers when they ended up in the market for what you sell.
Of course, the key to all this is the “relevant messaging” and “creative execution” parts. If you aren’t relevant and interesting they will ignore you.  So let’s get down to the practical part of this!
So when mass media isn’t feasbile, and you’re not selling a product with widespread, mass appeal, here’s how to create “monthly mailings” that’ll win you the battle for the short list:
Make routine mailings more relevant by focusing in on Precipitating Events
If your IT company offers hosted exchange hosting, realize that people don’t switch from in-house to hosted exchange services on a whim, or on the proposed hope of saving some marginal amount of the IT budget.
IT managers typically switch to hosted exchange because they’re worried about:
e-mail service going down
e-mail service getting botched
e-mail service getting messed up with some new upgrade,
or they have a bad fealing,
or all of the above.
And the reason these managers put off switching is because of the pain and distruption generally involved in the switch.
So what if your routine mailings stopped promising exquisite service and low turnover, yada, yada, yada, and instead starting focusing in on guaranteed less than 12-hour migration time tables. Ability to migrate even downed systems. Guaranteed no loss of data, and so on.  Make the messaging relevant to the pain points of the manager experiencing the precipitant event.
Make Routine Mailings Relevant by Giving Key Information to the Inside Decision Makers
A colleague of mine works with a Physical Therapist who was having lousy luck getting doctors to recommed his work, even though they personally thought he was a top notch therapist in the area.
Turns out, the doctors simply didn’t like being on the hook for a perceived “endorsement” and would rather prescribe the therapy and let patients make their own decisions about who to use.
So my colleague advised the therapist to focus in on the practice managers and nurses at the front desk by sending routine mailers out to them.
And what was on those mailers?
A list of the types of therapy provided and specialized in, types of insurance covered, and so on.  They even occassionally put that on a magnet, to make it easier to use as a ready reference.
Now, when the patient walked out with paperwork for this type of therapy, and an insurance card from that provider, the nurses can look at the reference card, and recommend my colleagues client as at least one of the providers the patient could go to.
In other words, that sort of Key Information mailer helped win The Battle of the Short List.
Make Routine Mailings Fun
The problem with a lot of mailers is that they look like junk mail.  Hey, from a certain perspective — that of a guy sorting mail over a trash can — they ARE junk mail.  Injecting some fun and creativity into the mailer gets your stuff looked at and appreciated.
There are tons of creative techniques but I might recommend Bill Glazer’s Outrageous Advertising.  Lots of good examples that are easy to swipe and deploy for your own business.
You can also look at the products available from www.3dmailresults.com and you should get a few ideas on 3-dimensional mailing gimicks that could be used to get your mailer opened and looked at.
Finally, in keeping with the “Practical Tactical” theme, here’s a nice way to outsource your requent mailers: sendoutcards.com
So Here Are Your 4 Practical Take Aways
Make a list of the “real” decision makers in an organization
Who might make the decision other than the person who bottom-lines the check?  Managers, Executive Assistants, End Users of the Product, Sales Staff, and so on.
Make a list of precipitant events for your industry, product or service
Figure out what happens to the prospect to kick off her moment of need.  If you’re not sure of what those events are, ask your sales team; they’ll know.  And if your sales team doesn’t know, you might want to look into getting some better sales talent as long term solution to that.  Short term, do some digging on appropriate internet forums, bulletin boards, twitter, social media platforms, and so on.
Fiigure out key information your short-list decision makers will need
Don’t assume it’s necessarily pricing. It could center around compatibility, speed, service after the sale, financing, service level agreements, or sales. Whatever it is, figure it out. Again, your sales team should know this stuff, if you don’t.  And if neither you or your sales staff know it, consider interviewing or surveying some or all of your past customers.  This stuff is important — no, crucial!
Ideate some creative mailers and start sending them out
Need some help getting creative?  You could find some useful stuff here [http://www.slyasafox.com/register.html]

2012-02-07_1738Winning the Battle of the Short List doesn’t necessarily require the use of mass media.

It does require a certain repetition of high-impact messaging for key influencers and decision makers.  But that can be achieved through the use of targeted mailings, rather than, say, radio spots.

Take the IT example from last week’s Theory Thursday column: if you knew that the short list for IT vendors was composed lower-down on the food chain than the CIO, for example, you could do exploratory work getting the contact info for those IT managers, and create a monthly mailing to them for your particular brand and service promises.

A mailing a month with relevant messaging and creative execution would certainly gain you top of mind awareness with those managers when they ended up in the market for what you sell.

Of course, the key to all this is the “relevant messaging” and “creative execution” parts. If you aren’t relevant and interesting they will ignore you.  So let’s get down to the practical part of this!

So when mass media isn’t feasbile, and you’re not selling a product with widespread, mass appeal, here’s how to create “monthly mailings” that’ll win you the battle for the short list:

Make routine mailings more relevant by focusing in on Precipitating Events

If your IT company offers hosted exchange hosting, realize that people don’t switch from in-house to hosted exchange services on a whim, or on the proposed hope of saving some marginal amount of the IT budget.

IT managers typically switch to hosted exchange because they’re worried about:

  • e-mail service going down
  • e-mail service getting botched
  • e-mail service getting messed up with some new upgrade,
  • or they have a bad feeling,
  • or all of the above.

And the reason these managers put off switching is because of the pain and distruption generally involved in the switch.

So what if your routine mailings stopped promising exquisite service and low turnover, yada, yada, yada, and instead starting focusing in on guaranteed less than 12-hour migration time tables. Ability to migrate even downed systems. Guaranteed no loss of data, and so on.  Make the messaging relevant to the pain points of the manager experiencing the precipitant event.

Make Routine Mailings Relevant by Giving Key Information to the Inside Decision Makers

A colleague of mine, Tom Wanek, works with a Physical Therapist who was having lousy luck getting doctors to recommed his work, even though they personally thought he was a top notch therapist in the area.

Turns out, the doctors simply didn’t like being on the hook for a perceived “endorsement” and would rather prescribe the therapy and let patients make their own decisions about who to use.

So my colleague advised the therapist to focus in on the practice managers and nurses at the front desk by sending routine mailers out to them.

And what was on those mailers?

A list of the types of therapy provided and specialized in, types of insurance covered, and so on.  They even occassionally put that on a magnet, to make it easier to use as a ready reference.

Now, when the patient walked out with paperwork for this type of therapy, and an insurance card from that provider, the nurses can look at the reference card, and recommend my colleagues client as at least one of the providers the patient could go to.

In other words, that sort of Key Information mailer helped win The Battle of the Short List.

Make Routine Mailings Fun

The problem with a lot of mailers is that they look like junk mail.  Hey, from a certain perspective — that of a guy sorting mail over a trash can — they ARE junk mail.  Injecting some fun and creativity into the mailer gets your stuff looked at and appreciated.

There are tons of creative techniques but I might recommend Bill Glazer’s Outrageous Advertising. Lots of good examples that are easy to swipe and deploy for your own business.

You can also look at the products available from 3dmailresults.com and you should get a few ideas on 3-dimensional mailing gimicks that could be used to get your mailer opened and looked at. And, no, you don’t need to use 3-dimensional mailings, a little creativity can allow you to create mailings around current events, such as this Groundhog Day mailing my partner Tim Miles made.

Finally, in keeping with the “Practical Tactical” theme, here’s a nice way to outsource your requent mailers: sendoutcards.com

So Here Are Your 4 Practical Take Aways

1. Make a list of the “real” decision makers in an organization

Who might make the decision other than the person who bottom-lines the check?  Managers, Executive Assistants, End Users of the Product, Sales Staff, and so on.

2. Make a list of precipitant events for your industry, product or service

Figure out what happens to the prospect to kick off her moment of need.  If you’re not sure of what those events are, ask your sales team; they’ll know.  And if your sales team doesn’t know, you might want to look into getting some better sales talent as long term solution to that.  Short term, do some digging on appropriate internet forums, bulletin boards, twitter, social media platforms, and so on.

3. Figure out key information your short-list decision makers will need

Don’t assume it’s necessarily pricing. It could center around compatibility, speed, service after the sale, financing, service level agreements, or sales. Whatever it is, figure it out. Again, your sales team should know this stuff, if you don’t.  And if neither you or your sales staff know it, consider interviewing or surveying some or all of your past customers.  This stuff is important — no, crucial!

4. Ideate some creative mailers and start sending them out

Need some help getting creative?  You could find some useful stuff here

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