Direct Mail Drives Membership

Across the United States, many museums are struggling to maintain current membership levels, let alone increase them. They have aging members and that population deceases all the time. In order to remain relevant, many museums have adopted new programs trying to reach younger demographics. This is where direct mail, in conjunction with other marketing channels, can really help.

Postal workerAcross the United States, many museums are struggling to maintain current membership levels, let alone increase them. They have aging members and that population deceases all the time. In order to remain relevant, many museums have adopted new programs trying to reach younger demographics. While these programs may draw people in once, on average they have not been able to turn the visits into new memberships. This is where direct mail, in conjunction with other marketing channels, can really help.

1. First, profile your current membership list. What are their common interests? Ignoring their ages, what else do you see? Do they live in certain areas? Do they subscribe to certain magazines? Create a list of characteristics that fit with your membership. This will become the criteria for your list purchase. You want to target people based on interest in order to reach new potential members.

2. What are you going to send them? Why not start with a fun postcard? The design needs to draw attention. You should create a special membership deal just for them, for example, if they go to a specified event you are having, they can get a great deal on membership. Focus on what is in it for them and why a membership is good for them. You can’t just appeal to their sense of altruism — there needs to be clear benefits. These should be tailored to types of people since some features will be more appealing than others to each person. Just listing a bunch of benefits is not the same as highlighting three very specific things that are of specific importance to them.

3. Consider sending direct mail to people who have visited in the past, but have not become members. Send them a mailer with a card attached that lists all your upcoming events and a special membership deal that will get them into these events. They can detach the card to keep for reference. If you use a magnet they can affix it to the fridge. Consider trying new things with your direct mail that you have never done before. You can run a test by sending half your list a new version and the other half of your list your normal mail piece. See which one does better. Constantly changing how you send direct mail is important to get the attention and create a sense of curiosity with your potential members.

Usually at this point we start to have the discussion that since they are trying to reach millennials they are better off with digital only marketing channels. This is not true at all. Millennials like getting mail. I am not saying to stop digital marketing to them; I am saying add direct mail to the mix. Quad released a study about millennials, click here that shows they really do respond to direct mail. Of course when they get the mail piece they go online to make the purchase, so make sure to have a web link on your mail piece for them to buy the membership.

The big takeaway here is that direct mail can help boost your membership rates more than just digital channels alone. For best results, use an omnichannel approach. The more touches you have with potential members the greater chance you have of turning them into members. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and try new things; just make sure that you have a way to track responses so you truly know what is working for you.

The Killer App in B-to-B Marketing? Face-to-Face Events

Of all tactics in the B-to-B marketing toolkit, the most valued, the most used and the most effective is face-to-face events. It’s not digital, except tangentially. But, year after year, events like conferences and trade shows consistently show up at the top of the list. Why, and what does that mean for us marketers?

I was teaching B-to-B digital marketing in Buenos Aires this month, and found some of my students to be dismayed by one data point that came up again and again in the course: Of all tactics in the B-to-B marketing toolkit, the most valued, the most used and the most effective is face-to-face events. It’s not digital, except tangentially. But, year after year, events like conferences and trade shows consistently show up at the top of the list. Why, and what does that mean for us marketers?

Interestingly, my savvier students got it immediately. They intuitively understood the power of face-to-face events in B-to-B marketing. “Business buying is done through relationships,” said one. Bingo.

It’s all about personal connections. Business buyers buy from people they know and trust. Business buying is based on people as much as it is on specifications and product requirements. Even when we are buying on behalf of our companies, we are social animals, and we want to look the seller in the eye before signing a big contract.

We need a conversation. Events are very efficient at conversations. Hundreds of qualified prospects have flown in, to talk with you, under one roof, in an intensely productive series of days.

Some people argue that business events are dead, or dying. Trade shows certainly suffered after 9/11, and the comeback has been slow. But to paraphrase Mark Twain, “Reports of my death are exaggerated.” This is still a $12.2 billion industry in the U.S. alone.

As an element of the B-to-B marketing toolkit, business events are actually thriving, even in a digital era. Let’s look at some numbers.

  • Year after year, events and trade shows clock in as the single largest line item in B-to-B budgets. 20 percent on average, according to Forrester. I’ve seen companies that devote as much as 60 percent of their spend to face to face.
  • Events are also at the top of the heap based on lead generation effectiveness. A 2015 study showed events way ahead of other media channels — online or offline — at 84 percent. Events ranked higher than even the company website, at 81 percent.
  • Even in content marketing, where digital and social are the darlings, events are named the most effective content tactic in this year’s study from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. It was the same for the last two studies, too.

3 Ways to Improve Your Face-to-Face Events Marketing Results

Okay, so you are convinced. But how do you get the most value from face-to-face events? I have three ideas for where some extra focus can drive vast improvements in the productivity of your event marketing spend.

  1. Put the event to its best use — meaning a place to have efficient and productive interactions. Know why you are there. Select metrics consistent with your objectives, and put them in writing, so you can’t cheat. And don’t forget: If your objective is to have lots of conversations with prospects — which for most people it is — encourage your teammates to make appointments in advance. This extremely effective technique is often overlooked.
  2. In face to face, your teammates are the medium at the event. And the message. So make sure your people are trained up on how to engage — and disengage. These are not sales conversations. But they can be learned. A bit of pre-event training can dramatically improve your productivity at the event.
  3. Put the event in its larger context. Post event is where the real revenue-driving activity happens. So make sure you focus on how you will capture contact information, and make a record of what happened during the conversation, and what your team should do to follow up. If you don’t have a solid lead management process in your company, don’t spend a penny on events.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.