What's your approach to outbound/direct marketing?

Otherwise known as prospecting or building a pipeline, this is a continuous process. You should always have a prospect pipeline, be identifying new targets and finding ways to engage with them.

But before you start sending out masses of unsolicited marketing collateral, you need to identify who they are and come up with a plan that fits each accordingly. Here are my five tips.

  1. Work out your targets

It’s so important to get this stage right; all the hard work done here will yield results, save time and effort (and disappointment) further down the line:

  • What are your specialisms – sectors, clients, skillsets?
  • Which sectors do you have gaps in?
  • The type of client can depend on the size of your agency; small and boutique vs large and diverse.
  • Do you have conflict in your agency, in your group?
  • What’s your experience, do you have new recruits or old recruits who may know potential prospects?
  • Is there a cultural fit?
  • Can you make money?
  1. Introduce yourself – what’s your ‘why’?

Once you have identified your shortlist of prospective clients, it’s time to get their attention. Remember, it’s a cutthroat business out there with many agencies competing for a small number of clients, which are all looking for the best people at the cheapest piece! So you’ve got to stand out. Everything you send to prospective clients should be bespoke and personal. Avoid sending standard creds or marketing gumpf.

  1. Where can you add value?

Make an effort to show where you can add value to their business so that it’s relevant to them. A one size fits all approach will not work.

  • Identify case studies where you’ve successfully tackled similar issues with other clients.
  • Do some research to uncover some insights, focus groups or desk research. You’re looking for some headlines to raise interest
  • Introduce some of the talent in your organisation, some of your board as well as some of your rising talent and highlight why they are interesting.
  • REMEMBER: this prospecting piece is not about you, it’s about you in their world.
  1. What you should send

Facebook accounts, YouTube videos, Snapchats, Instagrams etc. all require effort for the client to access and they will also require some sort of email delivery. I don’t know about you, but I get thousands of spam emails every week, most of which go into my clutter or junk folder, so the chances are yours will too.

I find that the best form of communication is good old-fashioned mail. In fact, conversely to email, I get far fewer mail shots these days and you just can’t beat a beautifully produced booklet with a handwritten covering letter.

  1. Follow it up

Don’t give up - the chances are the clients aren’t looking to pitch. But they will one day. In the same way as major brands rely on frequency of messaging to keep them top of mind for that time you do decide to buy a new TV or sort out new car insurance, it's crucial you get on the client’s radar and stay there so when the time comes you’re on their consideration list.

Good luck!

Ben Gordon is Managing Partner - Head of New Business and Marketing at MEC.

Last updated 21 January 2022