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Use All Five Senses in B2B Marketing

By Mar 03, 2014

Back in the 1980’s, when I first began my career, I attended a seminar where a B2B case study was presented. The speaker’s theory was that the more you took advantage of all five senses in your direct mail campaign, the more successful it would be. I was intrigued.

rubber-chickenEver since that day, whenever I have the chance to create a campaign where I can evoke more than a few of the senses, I immediately don my creative director’s hat and pitch the idea to a client—if it makes sense in their marketing plan. I have done campaigns with nuts, popcorn, frozen custard, candy, Danish kringle, fruit, spices, hula-hoops, coffee and even rubber chickens.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

1. Sight is most important.
When you’re doing direct mail, it has to get opened to get noticed. This means it has to appeal visually to the target audience and be relevant. This is why dimensional mail can work wonders in B2B. Bigger is usually better—that’s why I sent hula hoops to prospects once upon a time.

2. Smell is the second most important sense.
The idea is to have people come into the prospects office and ask “What smells so good?” Every time they are asked they will think of you, your company and the product/service you are introducing.

3. Taste is critical.
If it looks good and smells good, but tastes bad, you likely just lost the chance for a sale. Make your product unique to you or your region and, if you can, crave-worthy.

4. Touch is not as crucial.
That being said, make sure you don’t have a sticky, gooey, or weird texture to your mailer or product. It can turn people off.

5. Sound matters, but not as much.
Unless you are selling hi-end stereo equipment or a sound-related product, sound is typically the least important of the five senses.

Beyond the sensory component, which can be the payoff to the campaign, other elements like ads, email, web/landing pages, social media, digital, trade show/events need to have an integrated and cohesive look and feel for maximum ROI. PR can play big into your success if done correctly.

The lists you use for all media, especially more costly dimensional sensory-mailers, need to be accurate and include an offer that resonates. I prefer to drive prospects to campaign-specific landing pages where we can gauge activity and test different offers, among other things.

These types of campaigns do work. But remember that you can’t forego testing just because you have developed clever packaging. Also, don’t forget to include key drivers to response within your campaign, including URL’s you can track and measure, a letter and brochure included within the dimensional sensory-mailer to tie it all together and follow-up by your sales team or distributor network.

Grant A. Johnson is the founder and CEO of Johnson Digital & Direct.

  • Shelley Sweeney

    Great tips, Grant! It’s true – getting your message noticed in today’s
    oversaturated media world is an ongoing challenge, but when you have the help
    of a little creativity it’s easier to cut through the clutter and reach the end
    user. Sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing – experiential marketing campaigns
    are utilizing a range of senses these days to capture the attention of
    consumers. Increasingly, we’ve seen that it’s imperative for printed pieces to
    be interactive and cutting-edge in order to increase the connection between the
    brand and the consumer. But I think the key to successful direct marketing has
    always been personalization. Focused personalization in direct marketing pieces
    steers the individual recipient toward something you know they need or want.
    And by concentrating on the consumer, marketers are able to send their message
    to the appropriate recipient and the recipient is likely more open to receiving
    it. So, partner print with the five senses and a little personalization and
    you’ve created one of the strongest and most powerful triggers for emotional
    memory. – Shelley Sweeney, VP/GM Service Bureau/Direct Mail Sectors, Xerox

    • grantajohnson

      Thanks Shelley. I do not mind being a tad outrageous! Especially when it comes to marketing ROI.

      Thanks for the comment.