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Apr 14, 2009
How To

How Xerox Uses Promo Products to Get Leads, Higher ROI + Tips on Retaining Consultants

SUMMARY: Promotional products can enhance campaign results by getting people to act. Discover 6 strategies Xerox uses to incorporate promotional products effectively into direct-marketing campaigns. This how-to includes tips for choosing the right promotional consultant.
Improve Your Promotional Product Campaign: 6 Strategies

Strategy #1. Customize and personalize

Customization and personalization should be a priority when incorporating promotional products into direct marketing campaigns, says Beth Ann Kilberg-Walsh, Manager, Marketing Communications at Xerox Corp.

Many Xerox campaigns incorporate personalized URLs or customizable promotional products. For example, when Kilberg-Walsh’s team sent out a direct-mail piece about how a Xerox product could produce a high return on investment, they included a branded boomerang with stickers that included the recipient’s name, state, and company. “That was kind of fun. It symbolized something coming back to you,” she says.

Xerox gets higher response rates, 5% to 15%, from campaigns that incorporate personalized promotional products.

Strategy #2. Start with the goal

It’s important to set a goal first, so that you could determine what metrics will be required for measuring the campaign’s success.

Here are a few questions to get started:
-What’s the market?
-What are the opportunities within that market?
-What is the overall objective? Do you want to educate the market or generate leads?
-What’s your message?
-If you want them to buy, how much do you want them to buy?
-How many responses do you need to reach that goal?
-How many responses do you think will convert to a sale?

Strategy #3. Send fewer pieces

Sending fewer promotional products to a select group of people can lead to a higher ROI than sending promotional products to a broader, less specific list.

“We send out to a very targeted audience,” says Kilberg-Walsh. “We send out fewer pieces and, yet, at the end of the day get a much higher return on our investment because it’s a message that’s customized and relevant to that specific audience.”

So, take the time to target the right people. Here are some tips:

-Know your segments
-Partner with people who can educate you about those segments
-Talk to customers: What are their pain points? What are their needs?
-Work closely with sales teams because they interact with customers daily

Strategy #4. Use sweepstakes

Using sweepstakes with promotional products doubles the incentive to act, says Kilberg-Walsh.

Here’s how it works:
-Xerox sends the direct-mail piece
-Provides a call to action, usually asking recipients to meet with a sales rep
-By responding to the call to action, recipients get a promotional product (sometimes it comes with the direct-mail piece)
-After meeting with a sales rep, the recipient’s name goes into a drawing for the sweepstakes

Xerox uses something fun or business-related for the sweepstakes prize, says Kilberg-Walsh. It’s got to be something that everyone wants or something specific to the target audience. Here are some requirements for the sweepstakes prize:

1. It should be related to the promotional product

Xerox used a branded boomerang to entice people to meet with a sales rep. The team told recipients that they’d be entered into a sweepstakes to win an Australian getaway after meeting with a sales rep. Tying the promotional product to the sweepstakes strengthened the call to action.

2. It should be a popular item

When iPods were the hottest new thing, Kilberg-Walsh used them as sweepstakes prizes. Also, cars and vacations always elicit a positive response.

3. It should be something specific to the target audience

Kilberg-Walsh made one of Xerox’s wide format printers the sweepstakes prize for a specific niche because she knew it was something these people could really use.

Strategy #5. Use personalized URLs

“All of the programs that I develop and launch – all have personalized micro sites,” says Kilberg-Walsh. “That does enable us to track a lot more information.”

Here’s how it works:
-Xerox creates personalized URLs for each recipient of a direct-mail campaign
-Each URL is pre-populated with the name, title, and company of the recipient
-The personalized URLs push recipients to a Web page or landing page
-The Web page or landing page tracks how many recipients come to the page, how long they stay, and what they click

To get sales information, Kilberg-Walsh links the data collected by the Web page or landing page to Xerox’s internal systems, so that she could see exactly where people are in the sales cycle. “I can see if we’re moving them along the sales activity cycle,” she says. “And then, of course, once they buy, I’m able to track that.”

Conversion rates vary from 8% to 15%, she says. Implementing the 6 strategies in this how-to has boosted sales by at least 50% for most of the Xerox campaigns.

Strategy #6. Ask qualifying questions

Always ask a few lead qualifying questions on the landing page or Web page. This is especially important for B2B marketers.

The purpose is to gather intelligence that will:
A. Help in determining whether the person is a qualified lead
B. Help in the development of more relevant messaging for future campaigns

Xerox asks different questions depending on the audience the campaign is targeting -- a new one or existing ones. For new audiences, Xerox asks lead-qualifying questions. For existing audiences, Xerox asks forward-thinking questions, such as: What are your priorities? What are your pain points? Do you prefer this product to that product? Are you interested in this category or that category?

3 Tips for Using Promotional Consultants

There are more than 20,000 promotional consultant firms in the U.S. Here are some tips for choosing and working with them:

->Tip #1. Strategize

When looking for a promotional consultant, think about the skills and talents your organization lacks. Do you need someone who is more creative or more numbers-oriented? What characteristics benefit the organization?

->Tip #2. Ask questions

Sherri Lennarson, incoming Chair of the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), suggests asking promotional consultants the following questions before hiring them:

-Do you have credentials?

The certification process for promotional product consultants includes a certification for CAS or certified advertising specialist and a certification for MAS or master advertising specialist. The MAS is the highest standard.

-How long have you been in the business?

-What are some of your most successful campaigns? Why were they successful?

-What do you expect from me? And what should I expect from you as my consultant?

->Tip #3. Develop a relationship

Be open to developing a relationship with your consultant. Be open to discuss everything. Once trust is established, don’t hold back important details.

Useful links related to this article

Creative Samples from Xerox

Past Sherpa article related to this topic:

Part 1 of 2: How to Increase Sales by Choosing the Best Promotional Product for Your Campaign – 5 Steps:

Research on the $16.9 Billion Promo Products Industry: Why T-Shirts & Pens Can Outdo TV & Internet:

Useful resources from PPAI:

-Fact sheet:

-Top 10 Buyers:

-Business Gift Study:

-DFW Airport Study:

-Integrated Marketing Study:


XMPie – partners in creating personalized micro sites for Xerox:

Roberts Communications Inc. – partners in developing creative and messaging for Xerox:


See Also:

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