BY CHUCK GREEN Call it the profound power of “free.” I don't know if you're like me, but I get excited about receiving unsolicited gifts in the mail—little unexpected promotional items such as pens, booklets, CD's, mouse pads, coffee cups, and such. If I encountered them in a store, they would not likely even catch my eye, but send them to my mailbox and you've got my attention.
Object marketing plays that hand and trumps it. It attaches words and text to the object that helps it make the selling proposition.
In the average office, you've got to work your way past at least one soldier to get to a captain of business. And when you use the mail to make initial contact or to secure an appointment, you need something out of the ordinary. Although most administrators have little trouble tossing a form letter, a box is a different story—boxes hold treasure and no one pitches treasure.
The idea of object marketing is to link your message to an object. The box pictured contains a magic light bulb that sells in quantity for two or three dollars.
The headline and card prompt the recipient to hold the bulb above their head to generate a brilliant idea—to buy your product or service. The attached card explains that, when you nest the bulb in a small piece of foil, it magically lights up—a trick that is impressive and easy enough for anyone to perform.
The headline reads, “You're going to have a brilliant idea in the next sixty seconds.” The card inside continues, “To light the magic bulb...Nest the foil and then the bulb in the palm of your hand. Now raise the bulb above your head and cry 'Hey, I've got it! Let's get Sampler Land Management to list our next property!' 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 . . . time's up. Wow, it's amazing how the really big stuff just comes to you sometimes. Call Janet Sampler at 987 654 3210.”
The bulb is held in place by a small platform that is cut in the shape of the bulb, but you could just as easily use conventional packing material.
How much is it worth?
The key to the success of object marketing is to marry your message with just the right item. If you have a very small list of very good prospects, it may be possible for you to justify an item as expensive as 25 or even 50 dollars. In fact, to attract a high-end prospect who might buy an expensive piece of equipment or sign a lucrative contract, I've seen companies invest 100 dollars or more per mailer.
Stock, standard-sized boxes can be purchased in all shapes, sizes, and colors from local or national manufacturers and imprinted with your headline locally by a silkscreen printer—the same folks who print T-shirts. The "payoff" piece, the card on the inside, is a simple job laid out using any desktop publishing program and reproduced in quantity by a local commercial printer.
This is a project that should be closely matched to your market. There are hundreds of well-suited promotional items available from companies that specialize in promotional products or, if you buy a large enough quantity, direct from distributors and manufacturers. A few more ideas:
A cassette recorder is an example of one of those more expensive items. But imagine the impression you'd make if your prospect was able to hear a 5 minute pitch about your consulting service or 15 minutes of your sold-out seminar. You entice them with the headline “Five minutes that will change the way you do business” and pay it off with a tag such as “Press 'play' to hear the #1 reason managers lose the respect of their employees.” (Don't forget too, that your object can be imprinted with your company name and logo.)
The “Prescription for sluggish sales?” A jar of jellybeans. The tag reads “Take two and call me in the morning. Often times, we're too close to the action to diagnose the problem. If you're having trouble finding a cure for declining sales, its time for a specialist. Call Donald Sampler, Sampler Research at 987-654-3210. We make house calls.”
You can also use object marketing to stay in touch with existing customers or to recognize milestones in large projects. In this case a swimming pool contractor uses a mailing to say thank you for a near-complete project and to ask for referrals. The cover of the box reads “Prepare for the end” which the customer opens to reveal a rubber duck and a note that reads “We're just days away from the time that you and your friends will be enjoying your new pool...”
This question, “Is cleaning a do-it-yourself project?” is answered with a practical little gift—a whisk broom. The tag details the services a professional janitorial company performs that a do-it-yourselfer might overlook.
A box in a box
The best way to mail your object box is to pack it inside another box. That way, you know that your message will arrive without the wear and tear of handling. As you decide on the object you want to send and the size and shape of the box you'll use to hold it, consider the standard sizes of boxes available to mail it. If you ship using an overnight shipper or USPS Priority Mail, the shipping box can be had, free of charge.
Object marketing is a powerful tool
Use your imagination to find the perfect object or try one of those pictured. If your mailing is clever enough, your prospect may well end up walking around the office showing it off—the ultimate dream of every marketeer.