Use All Five Senses in B2B Marketing

Posted on by Grant Johnson

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.

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