Exhibition Marketing: 3 Steps to Sustainable Mail Marketing

230 hours (over a week of my life). 12,950 brochures (who know how many trees). Countless paper cuts and I could have bought a new Porsche for less…

Wave goodbye to brochures

When the New Year came around, I decided to make a resolution: kill off the brochure before it kills me. In a company where the brochure has been part of every sales pitch, meeting and presentation to potential clients, what I was proposing was totally radical.

“But this is 2013!” I said. “The decade of Tweeting, iPhones and drinking over priced coffee from fake Italian style baristas on the go”. No one has time to leaf through a 40 pages of sales blurb anymore, in the vague hope they might find that essential missing piece of their puzzle. We are now all obsessed with instant gratification and “Googling it” sits next to breathing in the natural cycle. I could feel a plan coming together.

The Plan.

We’ve all been there, we come up with a light bulb moment and when we present it we get the default response: “Prove it”. Well, numbers speak louder than words I have found, so I needed a plan. After hours of debating, the plan comes down to three simple points:

  • How much does it cost?
  • What is the benefit?
  • Is there an alternative?

The Method.

The first task is to work out how much you are sending (or have sent). Easy enough… especially if you have a manager who is obsessed with “you cannot improve, what you cannot measure”.

Next, you need to find out how much it costs to produce your brochures i.e. printing, stuffing and posting. Get a quote from your printer, or make a yearly projection to order as many as you think you might need to find out your unit cost.

It all starts to become clearer at this point, thinking about all those brochures being thrown away and mashed in the post…

(For bonus points, why not do a little benchmarking? Look at how well your products did at a specific time when you did send a brochure against when you didn’t send one – this will highlight whether you need snail mail at all!!)

The Benefit.

The very nature of printed brochures makes it near impossible to figure out the ROI. We toyed with the idea of putting QR codes on our brochure, but let’s face it; you get QR codes on packets of cheese nowadays. All that effort for the little black and white square to be disregarded as more marketing clutter? As you can probably tell, I am a little cynical about the usefulness of QR codes.

Queue another light bulb moment: Discount. Everybody loves a discount! Include a code so that the recipient can receive a discount if they quote it! In the mean time, you record every one that is quoted so that you know how many brochures are breaking through their built in marketing filter.

However you still have the issue of the massive amounts of paper used (most of what you pay for is weight, both in production and posting). Not to mention the ever important sustainability factor. There has to be another way…

The Alternative.

Here is the tipping point in your argument. You can’t win with money factors alone, ultimately your sales representatives will need something flashy to put under the nose of prospective clients. And that’s fine; we’re all magpies at heart.

Then I noticed everyone had an iPad! I was going to say light bulb again… but I’ve used it too much and I can’t think of an alternative (feel free to leave one as a comment!).

Why not have an electronic version? Why not quickly host your PDF online with a domain name? I’m sure you can get points for the amount of boxes you have just ticked.

  1. You just pleased your “On the go” market with something they can view anywhere from their pocket.
  2. All those trees that get to live to see another day.
  3. Trackable viewing with a few clicks on Google Analytics.
  4. Updatable at the click of a button, no more running expensive reprints to fix a typo.

But what if you can’t get away from postal marketing?

Easy peasy. Create a postcard. It costs up to 70% less to produce and send, you can go nuts with nice pictures and you can write some nice blurb about yourself at the same time. Even better if you can get it on FSC Approved paper.

The Solution.

Your hard work should speak for itself by now. You’ve highlighted your waste, found an alternative and managed to do the same job just cheaper. Not only that, you have proven to your market that you are in a position to think about marketing sustainably – not just as a tool to make money. This is something we should all be doing all the time.

Rethink all of your processes, if you hear anyone say: “This is the way we have always done it” you can probably find plenty of room to make it better, not only to streamline your company processes but to set yourself as a standard for the entire industry to aspire to. Have a look at what you produce. Think about it from a user’s perspective (you’re a consumer too). When was the last time you wrote a postal order for anything…?

What battles have you faced in this new digital age and how have you adapted to stay ahead of the competition? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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