If I told you that paper marketing was going to be a big part of the future of marketing, as in physical paper brochures and similar collateral, you would probably laugh in disbelief. Paper is the past, and for marketers, surely, the future is digital. Anyway, isn’t DMN’s tagline “data, strategy, and technology”? So, how does paper collateral fit in to this?
There’s a plausible explanation for this. Remember being a child and getting an invitation to a birthday party? Your parents got boring white envelopes with bills, while you got a brightly-colored envelope with your name handwritten on it? It feels incredibly special. You feel a rush of anticipation when you open it. That invitation isn’t just an invitation: it’s a ticket to an exclusive experience, meant for only a handful of people.
Everyone who has gotten a special package – whether it’s a care package, an invitation, or a surprise – that temporarily lifts them out of their current state of mind, knows that no email, no matter how specialized, personalized, or tailored can do that. Which is why lovingly wrapped Christmas presents will never go out of style.
Andrew Field, CEO of PFL (derived from PrintingforLess.com) explained to me the concept of tactile marketing and swag campaigns that go hand in hand with eliciting an emotional response that integrates seamlessly with existing CRM infrastructure. According to Field, “digital marketing fatigue” is something B2B consumers experience a lot. The swag, when positioned correctly, can cut through that noise.
Samantha Patterson, marketing director at PFL, echoed the difficulties their B2B clients were having reaching customers.
“‘No one’s opening my emails, no one’s taking my call, my email is going to the trash,'” Patterson explained the types of complaints PFL was getting from clients. That spurred PFL to create an integrated solution that incorporated sending the physical packages through an existing CRM.
“It’s not about sending a physical package, it’s about incorporating it into different channels,” she told me in a phone interview.
A nice idea, sending personalized packages to B2B customers, but I was unconvinced at first.
I then spoke to Deborah McGinn, vice president of global marketing and communications at Arxan Technologies, who walked me through the process of grabbing the attention of C-level executives in the app security space. She connected with PFL at Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference, and shortly thereafter realized that the current approach for marketing campaigns wasn’t cutting it.
“We needed to have a much more targeted approach in reaching our core customers to make it worthwhile from an investing perspective in our marketing programs,” McGinn said in an interview.
PFL worked well with Arxan’s tech stack, and connected well with the existing ABM strategy to target very specific individuals, not just a broad market segment.
McGinn gave me an overview of a campaign that worked remarkably well. One campaign included a blacklight flashlight to show a hidden message in a cardboard box. The hidden message revealed copy that explained that most cybersecurity threats are invisible. One recipient was so impressed he called right away to set up a meeting with Arxan’s sales team. But the best part? It’s all digitally triggered. No trip to the post office required.
“The thing that’s great about PFL you can trigger the send through SalesForce, and when the piece is delivered, which is done by FedEx, the sales rep will get an email alert saying the package is delivered and to follow up.”
One of the most essential components was sending the materials in a FedEx package. “It’s not just a piece of junk mail, it’s something that’s important,” said McGinn. This ensured that the package got on the executive’s desk, as a FedEx connotes a level of urgency.
There are obvious risks here. Sending packages is gimmicky. What if your message doesn’t resonate?
But that’s precisely where personalization comes in. Sending paper collateral that is specifically tailored, engaging, and targeted to the audience can have an enormously positive impact — provided you do your homework first. It’s a bit like getting to know your crush before you make your move.
There’s an important distinction here. This is not sending random junk mail to a random person as a Hail Mary, hoping they move further down a funnel. A paper product, when properly researched and deployed correctly, can have the same or greater impact as an intricate email campaign. But it’s imperative to know your audience to ensure you evoke the right emotional response.