I received a helpful message a few days ago on the value of using low volume direct mail campaigns to get appointments with key decision makers.

The message came from direct response copy writing expert Ivan Levison and I really liked what he had to say.

Let me hand you over to Ivan for his comments...

Direct-mail marketing is a numbers game.
We send out thousands of letters, but expect only a small percentage of prospects to respond.

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As a result, we're constantly trying to cut costs. Obviously, if you can get into the mail for a dime or a quarter less per package, you can save a lot of money.

This cost-cutting mind-set makes excellent sense when you're doing mass mailings, but it can absolutely kill you if you're mailing to a small number of extremely important C-level propects.

You see, a small mailing means you can afford to spend a lot more per piece and really make a tremendous impression.

With a budget of $5 to $20 per package you can instantly cut through the clutter and stop prospects right in their tracks. Instead of being handcuffed by standard envelope formats, you can afford to send creative 3D packages that are guaranteed to get opened.

Let me give you some specific examples of how spending a bit of money on low-volume direct mail campaigns can generate fabulous results.

1. A Sybase invitation to a private breakfast briefing.
A while ago, when Sybase wanted to tell important prospects about the advantages of their products, they decided to hold a series of small breakfast sessions.

At these by-invitation-only meetings, knowledgeable speakers would make brief presentations in an informal, relaxed setting.

There were too many prospects to call on the phone, and a standard invitation letter seemed hopelessly flat.

Instead, I suggested to Sybase that we send their key clients a small box with a specially designed label that said:

INSIDE: A special gift and an invitation from SYBASE
Inside was a handsome coffee mug bearing the Sybase logo. Sitting on top of the cup was a multi-fold invitation. On the cover of the invitation to breakfast was the headline:
Sybase would like you to have this cup.
On October 4th we'll pour the coffee.

The mailing, which contained additional information, was a tremendous hit and quickly filled up all available seats.

2. An Intel invitation to a press reception.

When Intel launched its i860 64-bit microprocessor, you can be sure they did more than simply fax out press releases.

In fact, they invited the entire technical press corps to a lavish reception at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.

Intel called on me to write the invitation that had to draw reporters to the big event. They enthusiastically told me that this chip "would knock people's socks off."
That explains why I sent every reporter on the contact list a little box containing a pair of black wool socks.

The wrapper around the socks simply said:
On February 27, Intel will knock yours off!

The package also contained an invitation complete with driving instructions.

I might add that this mailer was so successful it was mentioned on the cover of the San Francisco Chronicle's Business Section. Their blurb read " . . . Intel said the chip will 'knock your socks off' - and included extra socks with the invitation to the unveiling, to be held at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco."

That's the kind of impact you can have when you spend some money on three-dimensional mailings that beg to be opened!

3. An American President Lines mailing to hot prospects.
A while ago, American President Lines came to me with an interesting problem. They wanted to set up sales presentations with a small number of companies that shipped perishable cargoes all over the world. APL wanted to prove that they were expert at transporting cargoes like fruits, produce, seafood, poultry, flowers, etc.

How do you get your foot in the door at a company that is fanatical about product freshness?

My answer was to send each executive a beautiful, fresh, exotic orchid in a lovely glass vase bearing the APL logo. The cover of the accompanying note said:

When it has to arrive in perfect condition . . .

Inside was the pitch for a personal meeting. The logistics of getting fresh orchids to everyone were daunting, but the mailing results were fabulous!
So what's the bottom line?

Simply, that every direct mailing you create doesn't have to be a cheap #10 package. If you have a small list to mail to, you can spend a little more, add a new dimension to your package (literally!), and dramatically increase your response rates.

'What makes things memorable is that they are meaningful, significant, colourful.'
Joshua Foer
Action Exercise:If you have a small number of high value prospects you want to meet with, consider spending a bit more money and test a low volume direct mail campaign that makes your message memorable.