Direct Mail Back for Ad Agency Lead Generation?

It wasn’t too many years ago that ad agencies used direct mail to generate new business leads. Then, it went out of fashion in favor of email. But, as spam laws and filters have made email less effective, the question is, is it time to experiment with direct mail again? 

A January 12, 2010 article in the Wall Street Journal titled. “Firms Hold Fast to Snail Mail Marketing”, gives examples of small businesses continuing to rely on and benefit from direct mail.

This got me thinking about the past, and the potential for the future of agency lead generation.

Five to ten years ago, it was not at all uncommon for agencies to use various forms of direct mail to solicit new business and help introduce or reinforce their brand to prospective clients.

Common examples of direct mail included:

  • Post cards (to large numbers of prospects, often times humorous)
  • Personal letters (one-to-one communication with a unique prospect)
  • Credentials (one-to-one communication with a unique prospect)
  • Your work (beautiful, expensive boxes to showcase creative sent to a small group of potential prospects)

We all know that email took over, propelled by the ease of communicating directly with a specific prospect, and because, at first, they avoided the proverbial circular file that captured so much direct mail. Best of all, they landed directly in the prospect’s in-box.

But, as it’s gotten harder to be “heard” via email, now that in-boxes are carefully filtered and emails from unknown senders are routinely deleted before they’re read, the question is: How should you now make your prospects aware of your agency’s existence?

We hear this frustration every day from new business people.

So, I’m wondering –

  • Is now the time to re-introduce direct mail into your marketing mix?
  • Is, perhaps, direct mail another case of “what goes, around comes around”? Or, a marketing tactic whose time has come (again)?
  • Or, is B2B direct mail dead? Should we all just move on to something new? (If so, what are your ideas for the new new thing?

I’d love the hear your thoughts – whether as a comment, tweet, or email.

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