Creative thinking required

Today I’d like some ideas from you. A company I know is moving premises (halfway across the country) and is preparing a not insubstantial mailshot (postal and email) to its customers to let them know of the change. The change of premises won’t really affect customers. Here’s the question though: is it appropriate to sneak in any marketing messages with this important update? Could the news be used as a hook to offer something? What do you think? Let us know below.

Discussion

  1. Jackie West

    If the company is moving quite a distance it does affect the customers. Because they will need to know the new phone numbers as well as the new location. I would certainly take the opportunity to use it as a hook, maybe by including a contact card – “your contact in sales is…. on….” to “your contact in accounts is….on….” etc and include a marketing message.

    A postcard (A5 size) would work well, contacts on one side, marketing message on other. And it shouldn’t weigh too much – postage costs need to be addressed especially if they are planning, as you say, a “not insubstantial mailshot”. It might be worth considering using a postcard only for the postal mailing. Anyway, the answer to your question (IMHO) is YES they shouldn’t miss this opportunity – even if it’s only in a letter…

    PS: my next step, if you’re still reading, would be to follow-up with an invitation to ‘selected’ customers/prospects to visit the new premises and have lunch, re-establish contact with key personnel, and providing they have the facilities, offer a short seminar on something of interest (not the company’s products) – I’m sure Chris you could think of something suitable! 🙂
    A word of warning – no-one will attend if they think they are going to be bombarded all day with presentations about the company and its wonderful products.

  2. Ian McMath

    Absolutely. There must be a reason for moving so talk about this and explain how it will benefit customers.

  3. Monish Shete

    Hi Chris, I would say that some information on the products and the co. should be added. Secondly, money should not be wasted on postal mail. Just a e-mail would be sufficient, with a link to click in case they want the hard copy of catalogues and new address. Anyway, who reads letters nowadays! As Jackie suggested, an invite to visit the new place would be a good point to add and it would be better to add that the visit would be just to look around followed by a coffee for all customers and lunch for “select” ones and chat!

  4. Eoin Ó Riain

    “Sneak!” Is not the word I’d use…I don’t think there should be an overt sales pitch but the wording of the notification should be such that the reader knows what you do and I think the idea of having a seminar or open day – or webinar – to invite customers to see the company “in action.” But the emphasis should be on celebration rather than sales – (I’m Irish so I’d say “let’s party!”).

    You say “not insubstantial,” does that mean a lot of address to mail to or a heavy package. It should not be heavy. It should be a well designed and attractive card that people will have hanging around their desk for months reluctant to file in the waste basket…

  5. Kim

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with putting a marketing message with the change of address information if it is done carefully.
    Just don’t confuse the message about the move. The two will need to be clearly separated.
    Jackie’s idea about including something like “don’t forget that your accounting manager is…..” would be a good one, I think.

  6. Nik

    As everyone else has said, the cust is already going to be looking at whatever is sent out. The company are already marketing themselves. So adding a little bit extra is no great shakes. It should be understated tho, otherwise the important info of the relocation could be lost. And if the point of the mail shot ISN’T the relocation news, then there is no point in the campaign.

  7. Nigel May

    If the company is going to the expense of a mailshot, it would be a complete waste of the cost not to include more information about why they are moving: “due to expansion” etc. and then take the opportunity to remind the recipients about the company’s products and services and give them a call to action – special moving offer, come to see us, download our new catalogue or whatever.

    If the mailing could be segmented into, say, for a start, current customers, lapsed customers and prospects, then tailored messages could be sent to each group. The possibilities are endless.

    Another point: they must make sure that the old address and phone numbers are redirected for quite a long time; there’s nothing more annoying (and potentially damaging) than calling a company and finding the number unobtainable. Unless there is a very strong reason to track them down, the assumption will often be that the company is no longer trading.

  8. Jeremy Smith

    There are 2 key issues here. Firstly information i.e. to notify existing customers and prospects of the new address and contact details; secondly reassurance in that the move will not affect service to customers (which we have to presume it won’t!). If the new location offers any new benefits e.g. from Penzance to Milton Keynes then delivery service may be improved; bigger warehouse so more stock = shorter leadtimes etc, then these should be stressed. The most important message from a customers point of view is “what’s in it for me?”. Focusing on the benefits they can expect should be sufficient.

    A nice, simply prepared (“corporate”) mailer should be sufficient provided all the above information is contained in it. Goes without saying the website should feature the move on the home page with a link to more details. Jackie’s idea of inviting key customers is a good idea – if the premises actually have something to show (e.g. bigger warehouse, other improved facilties): if it’s just an office I wouldn’t worry.

  9. Chris Post author

    When I was part of the MBO of Industrial Technology magazine in 1992, we announced our move to regional offices (a.k.a working from home) by sending out one-third A4 cards with our contact details – and perhaps crucially – photos on. For some reason people were reluctant to throw these away, and I would still see them pinned to boards behind marketing managers’ desks five years later (somewhat embarrassingly).

    The benefit to us of them keeping these cards, however, was that our name remained in front of clients all the time. Perhaps that’s the opportunity here: to give them something, using the change of address as an excuse, which they’ll end up keeping. Something which it would be hard to put straight in the bin: a credit card with a priority support number on, possibly, or a mouse-mat with the new details?

  10. Peter Mann

    Yes – a great opportunity to remind customers and prospects that the company is still alive and well (many may have forgotten!) and use it to establish / re-establish a relationship.

    And, as others have remarked – benefits, benefits, benefits. Consider an unusual shape card too, tying in with some aspect of the move or their main product. Don’t forget PR as well.

  11. Peter de Winter-Brown

    If it won’t affect customers why are they moving ? Is this just a scam to get commentors to leave their email address with you ? How cynical am I ? ;o)

    There must be some benefit to customers even if its indirect such as, “we will all enjoy living in blah blah and because of that will serve you better”

  12. Paul Hoath

    Sure it should include a hook – any communication with prospective customers should be used to shout the message but it must be short and to the point and remember the maxim of features and benefits. Why waste an excellent opportunity.

  13. Chris Post author

    @Peter de Winter-Brown –
    They’re moving because of a group reorganisation, as is so often the case. And I have nearly all your email addresses already, FWIW, thanks.

  14. Nikki

    They should absolutely incorporate a discreet but effective marketing message, even if it’s just a tag line or special offer linked to the direct mail / e-mail piece.

    I also totally agree with Jackie’s idea of an open day. If the new premises is nice enough to show off to customers, suppliers and editors – do so! Get your external sales reps to chauffeur customers, give tours of the facility, lay on some lunch and get some press coverage at the same time!

  15. Jackie West

    Chris wrote “….and I would still see them pinned to boards behind marketing managers’ desks five years later (somewhat embarrassingly).”

    This is true!
    Guilty as charged!
    (Probably still have it, filed with the old IT media packs I’ve also kept!)

    Jackie (aka the squirrel)

  16. Martin Holloway

    Lots of interesting reading there.
    As most of us are actually involved in marketing one way or t’other, we would surely be failing if the exercise didn’t include some discreet message on products/services?

    We did it a short while ago. We engaged interested customers/potentials before the move by setting up webcams looking across the site (it was a new build), so they could check on progress.
    Sometimes it was only marginally better than watching paint dry, but visited occasionally t’was interesting.

    We used the postcard mail out approach, brief message – moving on… address is…department contacts are… even better supplies of… why not come and visit.
    All the sales teams were given supplies as well, these were distributed during normal calls. Interest was raised and we ended up with a whole series of mini tours and visits. Then the selling could begin, because they had asked to come!
    Not everyone will have the same opportunities/facilities to ‘show off’, but there just has to be some merit in building new impetus into the general marketing mix.
    PS – Chris this will interest you – it was at this point we realised how poor our e mail database was!! Subsequently addressed and wow what a difference that can make!

  17. Tony Snowdon

    Catching up slowly.

    Is there anything to suggest that you shouldn’t ‘sneak’ in a marketing message!!!

    The important thing is obviously getting the message across about the move, so that the cheques get sent to the right place and the enquiries and orders are sent to the right place.

    But not adding another message, as long as it did not detract from the above, might be deemed anti-marketing

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