Selling to Hi-tech Prospects with Direct Mail.

High technology prospects are different. They don’t respond like
consumers and they don’t respond like other businesses. What
works with them is often the opposite of what works with
consumers. Here’s a primer on how to sell high-tech products to
businesses using direct mail.

Mail to people who won’t buy High-tech buying decisions are
often made by a committee, not an individual. To win the sale,
your direct-mail program must address the needs of everyone
around the table, whether the president, purchasing agent,
technical specialist or end user. So find out who wields the
greatest influence in buying decisions (often it’s the end
users), and target these influential prospects in your mailings,
along with the people who sign the purchase orders.

Go cheap on design and printing Consumer direct-mail gimmicks
sell sweepstakes, but not servers. Don’t ask a senior
verification engineer to “AFFIX FREE BUYING GUIDE SEAL HERE.”
Don’t expect a network operations analyst to “PLACE TAB A INTO
TAB B.” The same goes for fake handwriting and fake underlining.
They’re genuine mistakes.

High-tech business readers are sophisticated. They want a
letter, a brochure and a business reply card. That’s it. The
more inserts, lift letters, coupons, free-gift slips and other
stuff you put in the envelope, the more likely the busy
executive is to fling your package in the circular file.

Here’s one caveat. Fancy folds, die cuts and 3D objects work
well when you tie them into your offer. This is especially true
of trade-show mailers, where a unique and relevant gimmick often
draws more prospects to your booth than a traditional mailer

Assume your reader has a split personality Your reader is a
business person, in that order. As a business buyer, your
prospect wants to save money, raise productivity, increase
efficiency. So your mailer must address those issues. But your
business buyer is also a person. A person who is unlikely to buy
your product-however good it may be for the company-if buying
your product means more work, more stress or more grief for them
personally. Your prospect may even buy your competitor’s
inferior product instead of yours for selfish reasons alone.

Today’s rule of thumb in high-tech purchase decisions is this:
“Sure, no one ever got fired for buying IBM. But did they get
promoted?” Look after both the business interests and the
personal interests of your prospect and the sale will look after

Keep it technical Telecom professionals know what SS7, ITU-T C7
and ISUP are. You don’t. So you’re inclined to explain these
concepts in your copy, showing prospects that you don’t
understand their business.

But engineers don’t read at the Grade-9 level. They name their
dog Archimedes. They want substance, not oversimplification.
Your letter must speak their language, their jargon, their
lexicon. Learn the lingo by reading the industry journals and
technical literature that your prospects read. Watch for
acronyms, abbreviations, initialisms and jargon that are
commonplace but never defined. Write accordingly.

Lots of copy, thank you Your high-tech prospects are
information-seekers who will read a lot of copy. They hunt for
information that helps them do a better job, and knowledge that
makes them more marketable. They want facts. The more the

That’s why, with this audience, self-mailers don’t pull as well
as packages with a letter, brochure and business reply device.
One exception is seminars, where innovative self-mailers still
grab attention and fill seats. Engineers welcome long copy when
your message is interesting, important and relevant.

Stress features, not benefits In consumer direct response,
features are subordinate to benefits. What a product does is
never as important as what it does for the consumer. In
high-tech direct response, the opposite is true. Semiconductor
design engineers, for example, want specs. Saving money is
beneficial to them, of course. So is saving time. But what they
want more than benefits is hard data. They want I/O word widths,
data transfer rates, frame buffer bandwidths-every relevant fact
that helps them make an informed buying decision.

Don’t ask for the order A senior vice-president of manufacturing
doesn’t order a $1.5-million network upgrade by dropping a
business reply card in the mail. Instead, the first step in the
process is usually a request for more information. Followed by a
sales meeting. Then a demonstration. Then a trial. Then a

That’s why direct-mail pieces to high-tech prospects must
contain multiple calls to action. Your response device, for
example, might look like this: “(Choose one) 1. Send me your
brochure by mail. 2. Have a salesperson phone me. 3. Not
interested, but add me to your mailing list.”

Writing persuasive direct-mail copy for high-tech products is
different from pitching credit cards or magazine subscriptions.
It takes a unique set of skills to translate technospeak into
hard-hitting sales copy. Enjoy the challenge.

Alan Sharpe

Post Author: mark

3 thoughts on “Selling to Hi-tech Prospects with Direct Mail.

    Hortensia Gommer

    (April 10, 2010 - 10:48 pm)

    awesome post dude

    Danielle Tinucci

    (April 15, 2010 - 1:44 pm)

    Thanks for writing such an fascinating post. I seem to read the same and it gets a bit old. Many thanks.

    Teodoro Hellner

    (April 30, 2010 - 2:56 am)

    Yes I agree, but direct mail still has an important part to play. It is much more measurable and targetable than most internet marketing campaigns and not much more expensive.

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