Symantec’s high-performing direct campaign

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It’s practically unheard of: a 22% response rate to good, old-fashioned direct mail. How did IT security software company Symantec Corp. accomplish that?

Symantec’s salespeople were tasked to get in the door for face-to-face meetings with decision-makers. This was especially true in one region, where Symantec salespeople said getting appointments was difficult.

“The pipeline in that particular area was not where it needed to be,” said Kim Johnston, VP-sales and marketing operation at Symantec. “Each of our regions have pipelines in place. For new products, especially, they haven’t been sufficient to meet the [sales] targets [we set].”

The solution to the problem began with a simple exercise.

”I’m not going to propose this as earth-shattering, but we started by sitting down with the account team and looked at the accounts we wanted to focus on,” said Jenni Grimes, senior director of the Value Management Office at Symantec, who worked closely with Johnston to implement the lead-generation program for salespeople.

“We did basic data analysis,” Grimes said. That meant answering questions such as: “Do we have the right connections in these accounts? Who do we want to target? Do any patterns emerge? And is there any common pain point?”

“You need to do as much reconnaissance as you can,” she added. “You need to do your homework.”

A few verticals stood out in that analysis. Health care, power and energy, and financial services were the three areas that emerged as those with a common pain point.

“It was IT compliance. We were grappling with the compliance challenge—the whole IT governance risk and compliance issue,” Johnston said.

Grimes said it was important to approach the prospects with strategy-level information that would help them with their business rather than go into an appointment telling the potential customer what Symantec had to offer and sell benefits rather than features.

First, a direct mail piece was created that established Symantec’s track record of helping clients with compliance issues, with analysis and data to back it up.

“We had a narrative about working with organizations for years and helping them deal with compliance,” Grimes said. “That piece was two-day ‘FedExed’ to the recipients.” The package included a cover letter, and an 8½-by-11-inch trifold color piece with charts and analysis.

“We were somewhat provocative in the text,” Grimes said, which read in part, “We suspect you may be having challenges.”

The statistics used in the trifold were from on its annual online IT risk management survey of 1,400 current customers. The results presented in the direct mail piece were specific to the target audience, so there were individual versions for: health care, power and energy, and financial services.

“The piece talked about what their peer groups were talking about, not about our products,” Johnston said.

The call to action in the mail piece was a meeting request, asking the prospect for a half-day of their time for a discussion around compliance issues.

In a follow-up call to the direct mail package, Symantec reached out to each prospect two days after the direct mail was sent out.

That strategy was bolstered by using online “real estate” on with a way for prospective customers to go to a landing page that contained details about the survey.

“This goes to the really targeted nature [of the campaign],” Grimes said. “We had so narrowly defined and prequalified who was getting it in the first place.”

That targeted approach paid off. Twenty-two percent of customers and prospects asked for an appointment of some type. Many could not commit to the half-day face-to-face meeting Symantec proposed but were willing to spare an hour by phone or in person.

Symantec used that time with those customers and prospects presenting ideas to discover ways it could help its customers with compliance, including best practices and results from its study that would resonate with a particular customer. Grimes’ team helped create scripts and presentations for the salespeople to deliver to those customers.

Like many b-to-b marketers, Symantec has a nine-to-12-month sales cycle, so the company is still working with many respondents, but it has begun to see some sales.

Grimes said she traces the program’s success in part to setting specific goals.

“Historically, a lot of energy went into the piece itself: seminar, webinar, direct mail, rather than the results needed,” she said. “It was results-based thinking, not activity-based thinking. When you have that mind-set, you line things up different.”

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