As a direct marketing creative who has worked on both sides of the perceived fence between business-to-consumer and business-to-business, I’d take issue with quite a few aspects of David Reed’s special report on business-to-business direct marketing (MW June 30).
First, it’s interesting that he confuses direct marketing with direct mail – just one of the weapons in a direct marketer’s arsenal that also includes press, online, multimedia messaging (MMS), text-messaging, event marketing… even ambient. So there are quite a few alternative routes around the gatekeeper already.
Next, he seems to intimate that the yardstick of creative excellence, and the only way to get a business audience’s attention, is to adopt funky formats. Whatever happened to tightly targeting your market, identifying the needs of potential customers and making an offer that resonates with them in an intrusive, refreshing way?
Simon Foster then talks about “business-to-business communications not getting the same injection of creativity as consumer ones”. How can that be true, when so many creatives have worked (and continue to work) on both business-to-business and business-to-consumer brands?
No, the main reason for me that so much business-to-business direct mail fails to hit the mark is that, unlike its consumer counterpart, business-to-business clients have become too reliant on it and therefore try to make it do too much.
In general, most consumer clients will sell the brand through television, press and posters. Direct marketing is then used to make pertinent, timely product offers to sectors of the brand market.
Too many business-to-business clients try to do this all at once, all in
one mailpack. The result is the company brochure in an envelope with a covering letter.
So no matter whether it’s direct marketing for a business-to-business or business-to-consumer customer, for me the same three golden rules apply: really know your target customers (emotionally, as well as rationally); make an offer that they can’t refuse; tell them enough to make them respond. Nothing more.
If it’s kept this simple, then you’ll find business-to-business creatives are just as good at banging it in the net as their business-to-consumer cousins.
Joint creative director