Direct-Response Offerings are the Future of B2B Sales

September 25th, 2011 by

In yesterday’s Calgary Herald there was an interesting article about legendary local clothing retailer MacLeod Bros. soon to be closing its doors. Daniel MacLeod began the store in 1902 in the heart of downtown Calgary and by the 1970s there were six stores in the city. When I read the article one section stood out:

“It’s a difficult time for retail right now,” said Tim Beggs, one of four owners of the retail store. “We have some great clients and a good following, but just retail itself in Calgary is incredible. Rents are sky high. There’s very little space available for new stores or relocating. You don’t have a choice … Unfortunately at this time in the city it’s tough to make a dollar with the rents there. It’s not working.”

I worked for my dad in the late 80’s and early 90’s in the retail business selling computers and at that time the location of your store played a huge role in your success as a retailer. Companies would supplement the foot traffic generated by your location with advertising in newspapers and/or radio, positioning a sale price on a specific product with a direct response offering. If you had a good products and customer service your location was 80% of the success equation and advertising was 20%.

In today’s digital and recessionary economy the value of a location is less of a factor (60%) in your overall success; it needs to be combined with a digital strategy (40%) that supports the call to action (a direct response offering) for the consumer to visit your location. One retailer that is a prime example of mastering digital channels and a direct response offering is Brooks Brothers. I follow them via email and Twitter; they are located in all the prime retail locations making it easy for me to shop at their stores, but they are also very strong at using digital channels to offer a direct response add that drives my spending behavior.

It is important that B2B companies are aware of what is going on in the retail market. In the B2B world having a branch office with sales people is like a having a good retail location in the B2C market, but it is no longer the only answer to B2B success in today’s economy. Companies need to supplement sales teams with a digital marketing strategy that has a call to action associated with the messaging. B2B companies need to strengthen direct-response offerings and combine with traditional sales channels. This is the proven “killer app” of online marketing today. It focuses on specific customer actions and satisfies a marketer’s critical need for immediate “transactions” and “traffic,” both on the Web and in the bricks-and-mortar world. The Web as a medium for direct-response marketing is becoming more cost-effective than ever before, and continues to grow rapidly.

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