Founded in 1942, Baker Tanks has dominated much of the industrial tank rental industry for decades -- which makes it kind of hard for a new marketer to make a difference.
When you own massive marketshare, there's just not that much room to grow.
But Paul Cummins, Director of Sales & Marketing, was determined to find a way. "They hired me to take the marketing department to the next level," he says.
"Baker really wanted to target new industries, new customers, and to do that you can have sales reps go out and cold call a ton of people, or you can do DM that could qualify people ahead of time and target people that really have a need for our equipment.
Unfortunately, paid search ads (the tactic that's have proven so successful for many other B-to-B marketers) wouldn't work for this audience because most don't surf the Web during the working day. Many are blue-collar workers, supervising construction sites.
Cummins decided to try old fashioned direct postal mail. His aggressive goal was to get at least a 3% response rate to a lead generation offer.
After pre-qualifying names as much as possible by tightly selecting which list segments they'd mail to, the creative team used three best practices to get the highest possible response rate:
-> #1. Creative the prospect appreciates "at gut level" (Link to samples below.)
People look at people. However, people don't look at boring clip art. So, the creative team searched long and hard to find a photo of a man would resonate with Baker Tanks customers.
He looks like a hefty twin brother to a member of ZZ Top. He's got major tattoos, he's tough, he's big, and he's got a bushy grey beard. "We like to tell people he's one of our customers," says Cummins. "In our industry there are a lot of people who look like that." And even if they don't, at least some of their co-workers probably do.
The photo was so attention-getting that the creative team decided to use it on the outside of a self-mailer, rather than hiding it in an envelope.
The model definitely looks like he's in a bad mood - so naturally the headline read, "Why is this guy so happy?"
For the second campaign, the team picked a headshot of an Asian grandfather -- the kind of photo that makes you immediately say, "Ah Grasshopper…" This time the headline ran, "Why is this guy so wise?"
-> #2. A unique and compelling offer
The team wanted to offer something fun in exchange for registrations. It's not enough these days to offer something for nothing, the item has to be a real eye-catcher.
So, for the first campaign, they created a slightly silly "Get Tanked" t-shirt.
For the second, they re-created Baker Tanks' most popular tchotchke in history - a "Hazardous Waste" mug. "We did a campaign with those in the '80s and we had a customer call recently because he broke his from 20 years ago and wanted another," say Cummins.
-> #3. Multiple response options
Most people have a preferred response method, so the team hit all the bases by featuring a special toll-free number, a Web URL, and pre-paid postcard.
They made the most of the Web URL by creating a special landing page just for the campaign that featured a photo of the tchotchke at the top. The landing page didn't have any links to anywhere else - visitor options were simple, fill out the quick form and get your gift, or leave.
Plus, anyone who responded to the second mailing who had already entered their info for the first, saw a different set of qualifier questions to help flesh out the sales database.
Once visitors submitted their info, they were then taken to the main Baker Tanks site which had been revamped in time for the promotion to include educational info for the anticipated extra traffic. And, if anyone tried to enter the landing page after the campaign was over, they were gently referred to the main site. (Link to referral screenshot below.)
The first package got a 7.5% response rate, and the second package (which was sent to the same list) got a 3.3% response rate of prospects filling out the entire form to get their gift.
Here's the most fascinating data -- the prospects who responded to the first campaign were far more likely to respond to the second. In fact their second response rate was 29.55%.
Cummins was very glad the package had multiple response options, because just 26% of responses came via the Web form. The rest were offline. (However, this proves that no matter how "unwired" your prospects are, some are sure to prefer Web response these days.)
The landing page for that Web form (link to sample below) got one of the highest conversion rates from visitor to registrant we've ever heard of -- 92% of visitors filled out and submitted a complete form.
We suspect this is partly due to the fact that clicks came from offline. These prospects had already leapt a hoop to go online and type in the URL by hand, so they were more likely to register than easier clicks from an online or email campaign.
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