Warehouse Builder Constructs Leads

Like many companies, warehouse manufacturer Butler Construction can't rely on the economy alone to attract steady leads through referrals, its sales team or corporate accounts division.

But a recent campaign offers more than a glimmer of hope. A combination of mail, telemarketing and online efforts to CEO and chief financial officer prospects has yielded 53 hot leads for the company, which also goes by the name Bucon.

“This is really the first time that they had to do this extensive lead generation program,” said Curtis M. Arnold, account manager at Bernstein-Rein, Kansas City, MO. The company's brand relationship group handled the campaign. “What they're finding is that as the economy has slowed down and the construction market has become softer, that leads have slowed up significantly.”

The way out of this morass was a campaign that began at the end of October. Bernstein-Rein rented names from D&B lists. A dozen SIC codes came into play for prospects sought by the Kansas City construction company. Bucon targeted manufacturing, wholesale, retail and transportation companies with annual revenue of $100 million or more. Names also had to match profiles on Bucon's database.

Each week a batch of 250 mailers dropped to a different audience. Bucon used the U.S. Postal Service's two-day Priority Mail to deliver to the CEO or CFO's office.

“So we've had no problems getting past the gatekeepers compared to the standard presort mailings,” Arnold said.

What typically happened was that the package was forwarded to the pertinent logistics executive, probably a vice president. Telemarketers from CMS Inc., St. Louis, followed up a few days later to track the package.

Armed with the name and title from the CEO or CFO's assistant, Bucon followed up with another package addressed to the logistics executive to reinforce its case. Only enough packages were sent to ensure efficient follow-up by the telemarketing team.

In all, the campaign ends this month with 3,500 packages mailed. Telemarketing has yielded 508 logistics contacts so far. These contacts not only were handed the packages from their CEOs or CFOs, but also got one in the mail addressed to them.

A noteworthy aspect of the mailing was that the letter to prospect CEOs was sent by the Bucon president. Likewise, the letter to CFOs was signed by Bucon's CFO. This peer-to-peer communication was designed to establish credibility.

Supporting the letter was a pop-up mail piece with an inside headline — “Think Big. Think Bucon” — superimposed over interior and exterior shots of a warehouse in various stages of construction. The front of the mailer shows a confident man meant to represent a warehouse manager inside his facility. The headline says, “Thinking about solutions for inventory and distribution? Give yourself some space.” On the back, a headline in a sea of copy says, “The big picture on building warehouses and DCs.”

Copy in the mail piece stresses how Bucon is revolutionizing the building of warehouses and distribution centers. The result for clients could be cost savings and higher quality.

Bucon touted its turnkey process for building 200,000-square-foot warehouses. It claimed to have designed and built a 500,000-square-foot warehouse in Washington for a major retailer in only 107 days.

Taking a page from just-in-time manufacturing, Bucon let the retailer occupy the warehouse on one end before it was finished on the other. The cost savings to the client was claimed to be $800,000. Though the mailer was silent on the name, the client was Toys 'R' Us.

The mail piece and letter concluded with a request to call a toll-free number or visit www.thinkbucon.com for a free cost analysis tool. A business reply envelope was thrown in for prospects to fill out a form requesting more information. Details like phone, e-mail and name/address change were asked. They also had to indicate their interest in a distribution center, warehouse, new facility or expansion and operational date.

Bucon executives seem satisfied with this push. Its sales reps have made presentations to some of the 53 leads and are continuing the dialogue. Landing such a project typically takes a year to 18 months in the sales cycle.

It would take only one project for Bernstein-Rein's efforts to pay off. At roughly $26 per package, including mail, Web site and telemarketing, the whole direct push cost only $84,000.

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