Live from Direct Media Mailers Conference & Co-op: Prime the Pump

White Plains, NY—Finding the most qualified prospective customers is only one aspect of marketing success. “A target may not be interested just because he’s qualified,” said Janet Rubio, a partner with marketing services firm Austin Direct Impact, during the Thursday morning opening session at Greenwich, CT-based list services firm Direct Media’s conference here. Generating interested and winning the prospect as a customer is “not about sending a message and getting an immediate response. You may have to prime the pump a little.”

One way to prime that pump, said Rubio, is to create online relationship-building activities. One of her clients, a computer accessories merchant, developed editorial-oriented e-newsletters for those who registered on its Website. It also went a step further and created an online fantasy-football game to build a relationship with the customers and prospects. The game kept the participants coming back regularly to the site and ensured that the merchant remained top of mind; what’s more, many participants e-mailed the URL to the online game to friends and associates, creating a viral marketing effect.

The company waited 12-18 months before sending registrants sales messages, Rubio said. The result: the average customer value of these users was 30% above average.

Rubio also said that a shortage of modeling variables for many business-to-business marketers. For another client, a $6 billion b-to-b cataloger, Rubio created a financially based model that used as key variables the size of customers’ budgets and the share of their budgets that they were willing to invest with the cataloger. Using the model as a keystone of its customer contact strategy, the cataloger reduced circulation 30%, Rubio said, but ended up with a higher average customer value.

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