Case Study No. 2: Helping sales people succeed who might otherwise take the path of least resisitance

Problem: The Marketing Director of a large manufacturer of corporate aircraft was faced with the dilemma that many of their dealers’ sales representatives were calling only on Chief Pilots who worked for companies that already owned one or more aircraft — the path of least resistance.  Yet the greatest potential was clearly with growing companies that did not own corporate planes.  The decision to make a “considered purchase” generally rests with hard-to-see people: Chairmen, Presidents, and Chief Financial Officers.

Strategic Solution:  Identify companies that have sufficient growth, annual sales revenues, and net worth to justify a corporate aircraft.  Build an extensive database consisting of companies that operate aircraft, don’t operate corporate aircraft, and meet the growth and size criteria.  Develop informational offers about aircraft ownership (e.g., “How to Justify the Cost of a Business Aircraft”).  Mail a series of personalized letters on behalf of each participating dealer to the influencers and decision-makers in each of the targeted companies, using differentiated copy that was relevant to the individual based on his or her job function.

Results:  The number of qualified sales leads soared to new heights:

From approximately 42,000 mailings to the meticulously compiled and qualified database, there were 4,408 respondents (a 11.2% response rate)

  • 1,211 were Chairpersons (28%);
  • 2,451 were Presidents and CEOs (57%);
  • 3,149 were non-owning aircraft companies (71.4%);
  • 2,344 were from companies that were contracting with a charter aircraft service (53.2%).

Asked when their companies were planning on purchasing a corporate aircraft, they answered:

  • Within six months = 112;
  • Within six to twelve months = 113;
  • Within twelve to twenty-four months = 291;
  • Later than twenty-four months = 105.

When asked why they were planning to buy a corporate aircraft, the three primary purposes were as follows:

  • Transportation for top management personnel = 1,295;
  • Visits to remote corporate locations = 954;
  • Supervision of remote projects = 521.

For more information on how these results were accomplished, here are the twelve steps taken in developing and implementing the program:

  1. Involved the aircraft manufacturer’s sales managers in pre-planning the program;
  2. Defined short-term and long-term marketing objectives;
  3. Set interim goals to measure the program’s effectiveness;
  4. Profiled current customers; developed prospect assumptions;
  5. Laid the foundation for a relational database;
  6. Validated prospect assumptions with a survey mailing;
  7. Developed an offer strategy;
  8. Tested lead-generation mailings in selected marketing areas;

9.   Measured and analyzed test results;

10.  Rolled out with mailings that met or exceeded breakeven;

11. Augmented with direct response ads in selected publications;

12, Invited high-scoring prospects to special events.

Here’s a composite of the seven independent sources that were merged (and purged) with the manufacturer’s database:

  1. Dun & Bradstreet;
  2. FGL Associates, U.S. corporations that operate jets, turbo props, and turbine helicopters;
  3. Av Data, U.S. corporations that own and/or operate Class 5, 6 and 7 piston aircraft that are less than 11 years old;
  4. Aircraft Bluebook Corporation, Aircraft serial numbers by year for all aircraft manufacturers;
  5. Time, Inc., Fortune 500 current listing of the largest industrial corporations;
  6. Goldhirsh Group, INC 500 current listing of the 500 leading growth companies;
  7. Value Line, Current listing of the top 50 growth industries.

From the enhanced database, these businesses were targeted:

  • Companies in growth industries with annual sales of $30+ million +;
  • Companies in service industries (advertising agencies, architectural firms, attorneys, developers, engineers, etc.)
  • High-volume, low-margin retailers with annual sales of $100 million + (e.g., grocery chains)

This lead-generation program developed by Hogan Direct received regional and national acclaim:

  • A case history detailing the specifics of this program appears in the book entitled Contemporary Direct Marketing, authored by Martin Baier and Lisa Spiller.
  • This program was presented for eight consecutive years to attendees who sought certification as Professional Direct Marketers at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Bloch School of Business.
  • The Direct Marketing Association, New York, recognized the program as an ECHO Leader in its annual international competition.
  • Presented as the featured luncheon speaker for members of the Direct Marketing Association of Washington, DC at the International Club.
  • Appeared as a feature article in What’s Working, a national newsletter published in Washington, DC that reaches corporate marketing executives.
  • Presented to business-to-business seminar guests at the Strategic Research Institute at The Helmsley Hotel in New York

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