Friday, March 24, 2006

Catalytic Content Drives
Customer Purchasing Decisions

A primary goal of all marketing campaigns is to cement the relationship so that you get priority treatment over your competition. One measure of this relationship is the interactivity you can create between your target audience and your enterprise. To do that, create what I call catalysts ... a special breed of content designed to trigger specific, pre-planned actions by your prospects.

Catalysts Cause Reactions

A catalyst in the world of chemistry is an agent that causes reactions to go stronger and faster. In the direct mail world, catalysts might be called "offers" but that term is somehow too limiting. We all need to use a variety of catalysts in our programs because different prospects are at different stages of their buying cycle. Sometimes the reactions we are after are subtle and sometimes they are hard-driving toward closure of a sale. We give soft informational offers to prospects in the early information-gathering stage of the buying cycle and promotional offers to prospects who are closer to making a purchase decision.

We include catalysts for different types of buyers. One catalyst might be devised for buyers who are looking for lowest price, another for buyers who want risk-free security, and others for those seeking best quality. By selecting one offer versus another, the prospect is identifying key attributes that allow us to profile her into a customer segment ... then we can feed the segment content and catalysts that are personally relevant and more likely to be useful to the individual. This is the essence of what I call contextual marketing ... discover the customers needs, wants, expectations and interests and market to these unique factors that will increase sales results for you.

A Proven Approach

I have used this approach to catalytic content for 20 years in campaigns to help sell pre-engineered steel buildings for Butler Manufacturing, for such cleaning brands for P&G as Tide, Mr. Clean and Comet, for Wisconsin Tissue restaurant napkins, for Compaq Computers, Toshiba copiers, the Disney Institute, Florida Power & Light. We built the customer database with blank fields for all the criteria we wanted to learn about each prospect and begin communicating with the targets ... as they responded to various catalysts, we recorded the actions in the database and used this knowledge to profile their interests, buying readiness and price point sensitivity.

Our approach and the way we used various forms of catalysts was a prime reason why the rest of the world gets 2% response rates and we get 10-50% response rates. You can do this too. Start simply. Learn how to manage the process. Add complexity as you go. It will work.

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