John R. Kowalski Integrative Marketing Fusion

Send a Chair, Not a Brochure

Send a Chair, Not a Brochure

perspective, marketing, B2B marketing, product launch

This is a story to remind you to keep things in perspective when creating marketing materials.

Way back… when I worked for a major office furniture manufacturer, I was part of the sales team and assisted with account-based marketing and proposals. Across the room sat the marketing team who were responsible for product launches, sales tools, and product support. If you’re a fan of launch stories, check out the one about the bear and the trash can.

product launch, chair, b2b marketing

We had a new utility chair that was coming and marketing was busy preparing the launch materials. It was inexpensive and targeted for break and lunch rooms. It was stackable and had a handy ‘handle’ in the back for moving it around or carrying it.

Anyway, the marketing team had developed a brochure that was a monster. A double-paged, high-gloss brochure with a die cut (mimicking the chair’s ‘handle’) and placed in a velum back, again with the same ‘handle’ die cut. And back in those days where print was king, they printed up 20,000 of these things. And on top of it, the first page you turn shows a beauty shot of the chair with the text “Functional.” I flipped the page… “Form.” Another page turn… “Elegance.” Ughh… not one of “these” brochures. Definitely a monster, and an expensive one that won’t generate leads or sales.

I had caught wind of this and immediately my marketing red flags went on high alert. This was not a good approach. Not that I had any say in this, but I felt it my responsibility to prove a point on how ridiculous this approach was.

Research time

With a little research, it wasn’t hard to find out the following costs:

  • NYC high-end photographer to shoot the new product in a variety of color options and angles
  • Printing costs with the paper, velum bag and die cuts

It was a ton of money. And unfortunately, with my experience, it wasn’t going to work.

More research was needed. I started calling up friends in operations, shipping, etc. What was our cost for the chair? How much did it cost for packaging and shipping it? How many customers and prospects did we have in our CRM system?

perspective, marketing, B2B marketing, product launch

Once I got those details I was in disbelief… holy sh!t. It would’ve been MUCH cheaper to send everyone in our CRM system a chair, than it was to produce that brochure. Seriously. Send them a chair to try, test and use. What a great approach this would’ve been if the marketing egos didn’t get in the way.

The lesson in this story? Keep things in perspective. Know your audience. Think outside the typical marketing box of brochures and sales tools, and get creative.

Send them a chair.

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