Nov 10, 2009

Lumpy Mail – Secret Weapon or Dud?

"Tom, if you’re not using Lumpy Mail, you are missing a great opportunity.”

The speaker was Jim Cecil, founder of the Nurture Marketing institute, and a lecturer at a marketing conference I attended in 1993. Jim had been talking about some amazing results he had obtained using regular mail, with an enclosure large enough to make the envelope “lumpy”. When doing a B2B mailing for a large software company based in Washington State (!!) he achieved a 63% open rate. (In direct mail circles, that is considered REALLY good).

Since that time I have used lumpy mail from time to time, where the value of new relationships was high enough that it made sense to do anything we could to make a connection with a target. As a matter of fact, I am working on two such programs now for a couple of clients. They work because, as one happy customer put it, “With [lumpy] mail pieces I've experienced as much as a quadrupling in response rate over "flat" letters and postcards. There's just nothing like dimensional's like being a kid again, ripping open your mail to see what the surprise is inside! ”

If it is such a great technique, why isn’t every B2B solicitation “lumpy”? Because the other side of the coin (pun coming!) is cost and lead quality. The cost per lead makes this technique an unprofitable one if the Lifetime Customer Value is not greater than $500, in my opinion. And then there is the cost of the “enclosure”. I got a piece of lumpy mail last week with a pen inside. I opened it, kept the pen, and threw out the mailing piece. You want to avoid buying the lead with an enclosure that is too valuable.

Howard Sewell, of Connect Direct Inc., a highly successful direct mail firm that focuses on high technology businesses, advises his clients to ask these questions before embracing lumpy mail for a lead generation campaign:

  • Is my goal maximum response at any price, or is it minimum cost per lead?
  • How much is a lead really worth to our company?
  • What qualifies a prospect as being a genuine lead, and will this campaign generate those kinds of prospects?