By Laurie B. Beasley, president, Beasley Direct Marketing
This is Part 4 of a Multi-Part Blog Series Derived from Our New Guide, How To Market Complex Products & Services.
Here is a successful campaign that followed many of the guidelines we’ve been talking about, including an appeal to emotions, multiple touches, and a carefully designed offer. The audience was engineers—always a tough sell because of their skepticism—and we sought to persuade them to consider replacing a tried-and-true instrument with something they may not even have heard of. We did this not by leading with product features but with a pull on the heartstrings—reliving a recent event in which engineers were heroes because of the quality of their instruments and their work.
Anritsu’s VectorStar Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) is used to measure microwave and mm-wave frequencies in design, testing and manufacture of electronic components where extreme accuracy is required. A new model leapfrogged the competition in features and performance, providing the opportunity to generate sales leads through a multi-channel marketing campaign. The primary audience for this campaign is electrical engineers (EEs). They think in a methodical way and demand proof of product claims. They require detailed specs and technical information to make a buying decision. They are not at all impressed by marketing copy and claims unsubstantiated by statistics.
Anritsu’s predecessor company, Wiltron, invented the modern VNA tester in the late 1950s. While Anritsu continued to improve VNA high-performance technology, several well-funded companies have entered the market and developed similar versions of Anritsu’s products, taking the lead in sheer sales order volume. We needed to get Anritsu back on our buyer’s “short list”. Electrical engineers are process-oriented. If they are comfortable with a tool and that tool satisfies their requirements, it’s difficult to get them to switch. VNA testers start at $100K and have a long sales cycle because they are considered a capital equipment investment.
Our goal with the campaign was to bring Anritsu to the table with new customers that the sales force had not yet penetrated, creating awareness of the Anritsu VectorStar solution and ultimately generating face-to-face consultation meetings with qualified firms. A consultation requester who met key budget, purchase authority, need and timeframe-to-purchase criteria was considered an “A” category sales lead. In addition, the “B”-rated leads are prospect contacts with proven interest that opted in to future communications, but were not yet qualified.
Creative and Marketing Strategy
The creative focused on the Mars Curiosity Rover, which had made a spectacularly successful landing on Mars about the time this project began. Engineers are inherently interested in the accomplishments of other engineers and how they solved tough problems. The Mars Curiosity Rover landing was one of the toughest, with thousands of measurements and calculations that had to be coded into the landing and could not be altered during the “seven minutes of terror” during which the Curiosity Rover descended to the planet’s surface. To quote from our letter to prospects:
“As it descended through the atmosphere of Mars, the spacecraft carrying the Curiosity Rover fired its rockets 79 times, went through five configuration changes, and slowed from 13,000 mph to a standstill. In the final operation, a “sky crane” was used to gently deposit the Curiosity on the surface since retro rockets would stir up too much dust.”
We pointed out the extreme precision this required, and then made the transition to the reader: we think of the NASA and JPL engineers as heroes, but you are required to make equally exacting measurements every day. That’s why you deserve an instrument like the VectorStar.
The centerpiece of the campaign was a direct mailing in a transparent tube containing a poster with an artist’s rendering of the Curiosity Rover’s descent sequence on one side (NASA has done renderings but the client did not want to violate any potential copyrights so we commissioned our own) with Anritsu product specs at the bottom. Our hopes were that engineers would mount these in their cubicles, thus providing a constant reminder of the VectorStar, complete with a call-to-action. We followed this up with an email on the same theme, and then began the telemarketing campaign.
Twenty-four to forty-eight hours after the email delivery, the calling team began to engage email and direct mail recipients. This multi-touch process had the effect of increasing the number of contact presentations and shortening the lead generation cycle. Most contacts recalled receiving the direct mail piece or email. Many were familiar with the offering and willing to engage. Program metrics are indicative of the effectiveness of this process with the high volume of completed call scripts as partial evidence.
The call-to-action was a free gift when a prospect completed a VectorStar sales presentation. We tested two offers: an Anritsu-branded backpack (appealing because our target likes to carry lots of gadgets around) versus a VNA technical manual valued at $50. Because of concerns about accepting gifts, government and government contractors were offered only the book.
Additionally, all prospects that registered their contact information were immediately provided a free download link for a relevant white paper.
Because the price of the VectorStar VNA is $51,000 and up, we knew that repeated contacts—and often multiple contacts—within the same company would be necessary to close the sale. The goal of the multi-touch approach was to start the process by gathering as much information as possible while gaining initial commitment to enter the lead pipeline.
Overall, the campaign was highly successful. Based on the sales CRM reports, the program generated over $2.8 million dollars in the sales pipeline during the three-month campaign window, and many high sales potential leads are still being nurtured.
The campaign had a specific goal of developing 69 “A” leads that were considered opportunities in the CRM system. Through direct response and follow-up calling we developed 115 leads, which put us at 167% of the goal. In addition, the Calling Team gathered 426 opt-in contacts for continued nurturing and development.
The VectorStar campaign shows best practices for an effective multi-part B-to-B nurturing campaign: start with a memorable contact sequence, then follow up with multiple touches that develop the prospect into a sales-ready lead. Because so many recipients remembered and engaged with the mailing and follow-up email, it was easier to get them on the phone and easier to complete an initial sales conversation. Because of this effective warm-up approach, calls were completed faster, allowing more contacts to be made within the allotted time and budget. The result: more leads and sales opportunities.
A brief look at benchmarked targets versus actual productivity metrics in several key areas clarifies why the program was so successful:
|Metric Category||Goal||Actual||Performance to Goal|
|Qualified “A” Leads||69||115||167%|
|Hours per Qualified Lead||7.83||4.70||167%|
|Total complete Scripts per Hour
(Needs discussed, value proposition delivered, asked for appointment)
|Graded Records per Hour||4.0||6.8||170%|
|Dials per hour||18||29.19||162%|
|“A” Lead Conversion % of TCS||8.0||5.5||69%|
The most telling metric from this group is Total Scripts per Hour, because it quantifies the calling team’s ability to engage prospects with the Anritsu VectorStar offering. This ability to engage prospects and their receptivity to Anritsu’s offer of a technical consultation was the basis for the substantial number of lead conversions.
Over the life of the initiative, 2,094 scripts were completed during 540 calling hours. This number exceeded program goal by 260%. To look at it from another perspective, when the program launched, the expectation was set that 810 Anritsu VectorStar dialogues would take place. In fact, 2,094 Anritsu VectorStar dialogues occurred. The additional 1,284 Anritsu VectorStar dialogues over the course of the campaign celebrate its success.
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Laurie B. Beasley is co-founder and president Beasley Direct Marketing, Inc., a Silicon Valley direct marketing agency that has managed search, email, online, direct mail, and demand generation campaigns for over a hundred companies. Ms. Beasley serves as president of the Direct Marketing Association of Northern California. She manages the Online Roundtable for the BMA Northern California www.NorCalBMA.org. She is an instructor of online marketing at UC Berkeley Extension and teaches in the Level 2 Certification program for the Online Marketing Institute. She frequently speaks on online marketing and demand generation topics for marketing organizations, including the Online Marketing Summit, Interactive Marketing Week, DMA Annual Conference, and the Marketing Executive Networking Group.