For years, a small ad in industry directories was all it took to attract new customers to Accurate Perforating Co. But once the 65-year-old company, which specializes in perforating metal, decided to expand beyond its traditional customer base of original equipment manufacturers such as Caterpillar and Dell, it turned to direct mail.
Already, an initial 5,000-piece drop has yielded quotes from several architectural firms that had never heard of Accurate before to the tune of $1.5 million.
Executives for Accurate, Chicago, see architectural firms as a target for growth because they use perforated metal in their designs. Unlike original equipment manufacturers, which design an item and the orders keep coming in, architects tend to use designs only once.
“But the magnitude of the jobs are so large that that's OK,” said Mike Zarnott, Accurate's director of sales and marketing.
To capture a share of the market, Accurate launched the first wave of its first-ever mail campaign in May. Symmetri Marketing Group, Chicago, created the campaign. A second mailing to 5,000 architects on the East Coast is being planned.
Accurate “is a small organization, but they're trying to attack a large target market. One of the best ways to do this is with direct marketing,” said Symmetri president Carl Triemstra, who left Leo Burnett nearly three years ago along with several other executives to form Symmetri.
The campaign consisted of three separate mailings spaced two weeks apart to 5,000 architects at California-based firms with 25 or more architects on staff. The mailing list was compiled from the subscription lists of two industry publications: Architectural Record and Metal Architecture.
Each mail piece showed an image of a well-known architectural structure and asked how it might have been different had the designer been aware of Accurate Perforating. The first piece displayed the Eiffel Tower with the headline: “If only Gus knew where to find us,” referring to Gustave Eiffel, who built the Eiffel Tower. Inside, the tri-fold brochure continued: “Our expertise at following architects' exacting design requirements might have caused him to revise his thinking as he envisioned his famous tower.”
The other mailers focused on Cass Gilbert, who designed the Woolworth building in New York, and Addison Mizner, creator of Boca Raton's renowned Spanish Revival style of architecture.
“The thing I like about the direct mail pieces is that they make us look like a bigger company,” Zarnott said.
The mailers direct recipients to a mini-Web site that Accurate created for architects where they could learn more about the potential application of Accurate's products and see a sampling of designs. Interested parties also could request a quote, and the mailer listed a toll-free number for further information as well. In addition, the Web site had a form to complete for more information.
The responses after the initial mailing made clear that Accurate's catalog wasn't answering many of the architects' questions. Instead, these professionals were looking for a binder filled with samples of different hole configurations that they could put in their libraries. So Accurate invested — about $20 per binder — and now mails binders to architects who respond to its mailings.
“I learned so much from the first mailing,” Zarnott said. “I'm so glad we didn't do all of the mailing at once.”
So far, Accurate has spent $25,000 on the campaign, but it has initiated relationships with 30 architectural firms and received nine quotes for projects that exceed $1.5 million in revenue.
The company also is considering how it can use direct mail to stay top of mind with its 4,000 existing customers.
“With the size of their customer base, it is impossible for sales reps to stay in front of all of them,” Triemstra said. “That's why we're looking at direct marketing to do that.”
Chantal Todé covers catalog and retail news and BTB marketing for DM News and DM News.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters