Pamela Hoffman, Ajilon's VP Marketing Communications,
produces sales collateral for account reps serving three
different marketplaces from more than 100 different regional
"A big part of the sales effort is maintaining and cultivating
customer relationships," she notes. "We're successful at what we
do because we use a personalized one-on-one approach. We take
time to get to know you and your business."
Basic brochures and an all-encompassing email newsletter
would not do.
Hoffman needed to come up with collateral that would feel ultra-
personal and please account reps and their clients in a variety
of regions and marketplaces. CAMPAIGN
Last September, Hoffman and her team decided to create
an one-to-one email collateral system that integrated with the
account reps' client contact files.
Reps would be able to use it to send out attractive, personal
HTML messages to hand-chosen clients in their contact file.
The first step was to create a library of useful creative
templates. Hoffman wanted to have some fun with the creative,-
to be human and even witty so the communication felt "real"
instead of coldly glossy.
At the same time she worried, "There's a fine line you can
cross with humor. You have to be very careful so as not to be
flip or annoying. You have to be respectful and professional."
For creative advice, she turned to an in-house marketing
committee comprised of account managers, brand managers, and
regional vice presidents. "They have interactions with many
different customers, and we have all new campaigns reviewed by
The biggest thing she learned was that nobody is satisfied with
the same campaign. To make the new system successful, she would need
to stock the creative library with dozens of different options
for reps to choose from. These included:
- Greeting card-style headers for "Happy Anniversary" or
"Happy Birthday" that reps could send out with personal
notes to clients at the right time.
- Seasonal promos for every holiday and excuse she could think
of, including Back to School, Halloween, New Year's, you
- Promotional e-flyers for Ajilon's most popular no-cost offer: Their annual Salary Guide (especially useful for
impressing new clients and new execs at current clients).
- Bio e-flyers featuring a photo and personal profile of an
account rep so the client could get to know him/her better.
- Weekly e-newsletter templates with spaces for the rep to
fill in local news. (Often the office manager at each
regional branch will type it in for the group, and then each
rep individually sends the newsletter to their own clients.)
In every case, every email the rep sends also includes a personal
signature with his or her name, title and telephone number.
Clients can click on "reply" or just pick up the phone to get
back to their rep easily.
(That easy-reply email address is something many other email
newsletter systems overlook.)
Luckily Hoffman's boss is also in charge of all account rep
training, so he was able to make sure that using the new email
system was reinforced in every quarterly and regional training
The account reps loved the new system, and got unusually high open and click rates with these personalized
emails as opposed to more general emails sent to the entire list.
In general a hand-chosen message sent through a system such as
this to handpicked clients can result in 45-50% open rates, and
click rates of 2-10%, plus additional phone calls.
Hoffman's top three lessons-learned:
A. Geography matters more than you think
If you are not testing different creative for different geographic
regions, you should be. Hoffman's found her reps and their
clients have strong preferences based on region.
For example, in California everyone loves the account rep bios,
but no one on the East Coast would ever send one.
In the Midwest, clients enjoy a weekly newsletter, sent Fridays,
that features tips for their personal life as well as
professional info. On the East Coast, folks want you to cut to
the chase with an offer.
You might send New Yorkers a discount special, Chicagoans a
note about the upcoming weekend's weather, and Los Angelinos a
B. Alter your email-style based on job function
Even if they work for the same company, executives in different
departments react differently to email. For example, execs in
legal do not like it. Hoffman's account reps have told her not to
bother creating many email campaigns for legal markets, just
concentrate on print.
On the other hand, accountants like email, but you do need to be
careful about humor. They prefer a respectful message.
Office managers and administrators really enjoy wit and humor,
and many are female so featuring photos of professional women in
the creative can boost response rates as well.
C. Best offers help lower recipient's stress levels
While Hoffman does offer white papers and discounts, she has often
found that the very best offers are for educational content
that is geared to make the recipient's job or life easier. This
may not be data on the latest hot new trend. Instead it might be
reassuring advice. De-stressing in today's world is more
valuable than "news."
"Our staffing guides for hiring great employees and rules for
retaining them are very popular. Anything related to stress
management is a good resource."
Link to creative samples of some Ajilon email templates:
Link to the Pica9 marketing automation system Ajilon uses to
power this program: http://www.pica9.com