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By mailing "leaden, dead" fulfillment material, says copywriter Ivan Levison, software companies often waste some of their hottest sales prospects. "You'd never start a direct mail letter with, 'Enclosed please find literature about our product,' so why respond to good leads in such an uninspired way?"

Instead, he says, people who ask for product information should get a true selling document, not just a spec sheet or a brochure." He says the following tips should make lead fulfillment packages more effective:

* Fulfill leads promptly: These are people who've taken the big step of raising their hand and saying they're interested in your product today. If you're slow to react, it reflects badly on the way you do business. And there's a good chance you'll lose the sale to a faster competitor."

* Segment your leads: If someone sends you a fax or calls in with their own dime, they're obviously more motivated than someone who has circled thirty numbers on a bingo card," Levison points out. His advice: Send an expensive fulfillment package to high-quality leads, and fulfill bingo card leads with a more conventional direct mail package. ("But the quality of bingo leads has been getting much better," Levison notes.)

* Emphasize competitive advantages: I've seen research that suggests that up to 50% of people who ask for information are also looking at competing products," Levison says. So don't forget to include comparison charts, reviews, and awards."

* Personalize: Response rates usually improve when the letter and order card carry the recipient's name, Levison notes. But he warns that elaborate mail-merged packages rarely pay off. "It's sad, but low-income groups who don't get a lot of mail are the ones most impressed by personalized letters. The more educated people are, the more they feel manipulated by phoney, hollow personalization."

* Offer an incentive to buy: Levison points out an easy way to boost sales is to offer a special deal--for example, a discount or a premium--that carries an expiration date. "Don't assume you have to charge list price to keep from competing with dealers," he adds. "A standard consumer marketing technique is to give prospects a discount coupon that can only be redeemed through a dealer."

* Send multiple mailings: "Many software companies mail to a lead once and stop. Magazines know that it pays to re-mail. That's why we all get tons of renewal packages." As results get weaker, Levison adds, it's often a good idea to reduce the cost of the mailing piece. Your final mailing can be a large postcard reminding the prospect that this is the last chance to save money."
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:tips on effective direct mailing
Article Type:Tutorial
Date:Dec 15, 1991
Previous Article:Is Apple irrelevant?
Next Article:Technology convergence: forms, fax, OCR and pen.

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