Denise Barnes, COO of Oregon-based B-to-B direct marketing agency, Babcock & Jenkins, was frustrated. She says, "A third of our staff are programmers. We're a direct marketing agency focused on closing the sales cycle. Our tech solutions that support that make us unusual." But it's not always easy to explain this unusual offering to sales prospects, "Unfortunately, if we say we do 'direct marketing' people pigeonhole us."
The agency had already had some success explaining its methodology by launching an educational Web site -- iROI.com -- previously. That site simply focused on the agency's own methodology. Barnes wondered if she could show-off her firm's tech prowess by eating their own dog food -- by creating a database-driven site that would gather sales leads for the firm, educate them, keep them warm through the cycle ... and perhaps even produce new clients.
So January 2, 2001 Babcock & Jenkins launched a new educational site for B-to-B marketers, i-Marq.com. Now all they had to do was drive traffic to it. Unfortunately there were already dozens of established sites targeting the same market. What's an agency to do?CAMPAIGN
Surprise! Like many other marketing firms trying to reach tech-savvy marketing professionals, Babcock & Jenkins opted for a direct mail campaign. One reason Barnes cited was the lack of targeted selection in email lists currently available on the market.
The site's Executive Producer, Kimberly Wuepper gave us the details of their two, completely different test direct mail packages:
#1 -- "Voodoo Doll"
You couldn't miss this large self-mailer in your in-box. The front cover was dominated by a photo of an alarmed-looking, red, voodoo doll with pins stuck into it (kinda reminded us of "Oh No Mr. Bill!") The headline ran, "Marketing pains? Tell us where it hurts." The 6" x 8 1/2" self-mailer folded out to 24" x 8 1/2" with panels featuring more copy, photos of people, a free offer for Seth Godin's Idea Virus book for the first 25 site visitors, and repeated mentions of i-Marq.com's URL.
#2 -- "Limp Shrimp"
This package was a traditional B-to-B direct mail approach, with a twist. The plain white #10 (business size) envelope was laser addressed and had no return address. Inside recipients found a single sheet of folded white paper, bearing a short, personalized message centered exactly in the middle:
Iím not going anymore.
No more conference hotel rooms.
No cheap cocktails. No limp shrimp.
Found a better way--youíve got to see it.
Best source of marketing information. All
the luminaries hang there.
Free. 24x7. Personalized.
Hereís your PIN #: A3N2R393
"Limp Shrimp" won hands down. 9.7% of this deceptively simple package's recipients registered as members to i-Marq.com's site using the PIN # they had been given. Less than 1.2% of the Voodoo Doll recipients went online to register.
Guess that means it's not always a good idea to let your graphic designer go crazy on house marketing campaigns....
(Babcock & Jenkins - owners of i-Marq.com)
(methodology behind i-Marq.com)
CONTRIBUTOR NOTES: Want to plant a story on the iMarq site for fun and glory? 100% of their content comes from purely volunteer-contributors so they are always looking for good stuff.
All contributors get their photo, logo and link included ... but first your article has to get past "Scott the Value Checker." So, make sure your item actually includes value (vs. being a sales pitch) before you submit it. Also, if you use the online submission form -- yes you have to register as a member to get there -- be sure to include EVERYTHING needed such as bio, photo, logo and link, or your publication date will be delayed.
While Barnes says you can submit longer items, even 15 page reports, she warns that shorter "punchier" articles can be more effective. Yes, you can submit articles that have run elsewhere as long as you still own copyright.
BTW: Babcock & Jenkins are not the only agency targeting B-to-B marketers with an educational site featuring content from outside contributors. Here are our two favorites in the field:
1. East Coast agency Schubert Communications, Inc. sponsor and operate B-to-B Talk.org, which includes how-to articles, message boards and (more happily from the user-standpoint) doesn't require membership registration to get in. http://www.b2btalk.org
2. Austin Agency M2K (who co-sponsored the B-to-B BQ.com event this Spring) also run a B-to-B marketer's education site called "The Click." It's distinguishable by being the hippest of the three sites in terms of topics and design. http://www.m2k.com/theclick/