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50 lead-generating tips
by Robert W. Bly

What should you know when planning a lead-generating direct mail program? Here are a few pointers to guide you in the right direction:

1. How many steps are there in the buying process for this product? Where in this process does my mailing fit?

2. What can I tell my prospect that will get him to take the next step in the buying process?

3. Can I reduce selling costs by creating a mailing designed to produce a direct sale (a mail order) instead of any inquiry?

4. How many leads do I want to generate? Do we want a large quantity of “soft” leads? Or are we better off getting a smaller number of more highly qualified leads?

5. What happens if the mailing produces too many leads? Too few?

6. Is there a geographic region that my sales force does not cover? How can I respond to inquiries from this region?

7. What is the primary market for my product or service? (Which industry needs it most?)

8. Are there any secondary markets for the product large enough to justify a custom-tailored version of the mailing?

9. Who is my primary prospect within the target industry? What is his or her job title? Function?

10. Who are the other people (by job title) involved in the purchase decision for this product? What are their roles? (Who recommends the product? Who specifies it? Who has authority to approve the purchase?)

11. Must we reach all of these prospects? Or can we generate the desired sales result by targeting only one or two key decision makers at each prospect organization?

12. If we don’t know who we should be mailing to, how can we find out? From our sales representatives? Market research? Direct mail?

13. If we don’t know what we should be telling our potential customers about our product, how can we find out?

14. Should we tailor versions of our sales letter either to vertical markets or various job titles - or both?

15. Should we tailor our brochure to specific markets or job titles?

16. What offer are we using in our current mailing? Is there a way to make the offer stronger or better?

17. Is the prospect in need of information about our product or the problem it solves? Can we package this information in a booklet or report and offer it as a response piece in our mailing?

18. Does our sales process involve a face-to-face meeting with the prospect? Can we legitimately call this sales meeting a “free consultation” and feature it as the offer in our mailing?

19. Do we allow the user to sample our product on a free trial basis? Should we be stressing this free trial offer in our mailing?

20. Do we offer our mail customers a free gift, price discount, free shipping and handling, or other money-saving incentive for responding to our mailing? If not, why not?

21. What reason or incentive can we give the reader to respond NOW and not later?

22. Can we use telemarketing to qualify sales leads generated by our direct mail program?

23. Can we use telemarketing to turn non-responders into responders?

24. Can we use telemarketing to identify and presell prospects before we send them our mailing package?

25. What format is best for our mailing? Full-blown direct mail package (letter, brochure, reply card)? Or sales letter only?

26. Is there any benefit to personalizing the mailing?

27. What graphic treatment is appropriate for our audience? Should it be businesslike or bright and loud? Should it be “disguised” as personal correspondence or clearly marked (by use of teaser and graphics) as direct mail?

28. What copy approach should I use? Serious or breezy? Educational and informative vs. hard sell?

29. Does my reader want or need a lot of information?

30. Can I use a self-mailer format?

31. Is post card-deck advertising appropriate for my offer?

32. Should I use a single mailing or a series of mailings?

33. How many mailings should I send to my list before giving up on people who do not respond?

34. In a series of mailings, am I using a variety of different sizes and formats to gain attention for my message?

35. Are request for more information fulfilled within 48 hours?

36. Are hot sales leads separated for immediate follow up by sales representatives or telephone salespeople?

37. What is the conversion ratio (the percentage of mail-generated inquiries that result in a sale)?

38. Are our salespeople competent? If not, what can we do to ensure better handling of sales leads?

39. Do salespeople follow up on all leads provided? If not, why not?

40. Do salespeople welcome direct mail leads or do they grumble about them? Why?

41. Are there qualifying questions we can add to our reply form to help salespeople separate genuine prospects from “brochure collectors”?

42. Can we afford to send a brochure to everyone who requests it?

43. Do we have a sufficiency quantity of sales brochures on hand to fulfill all requests for more information - assuming we get a 10 percent response to our mailing?

44. Do we get a better quality lead by requiring the prospect to put a stamp on the reply card rather than offering a postage-paid business reply card?

45. Do we get better sales results from prospects who respond by telephone versus those who mail in reply cards?

46. Does our fulfillment package or sales brochure provide the prospect with the information he asked for? And does it do a good job of selling our product or service?

47. Do we include a cover letter with the brochures and data sheets we send in response to mail-generated inquiries?

48. Do we include a questionnaire, spec sheet, or some other type of reply form with our inquiry fulfillment package?

49. Do we automatically send follow-up mailings to prospects who don’t respond to the inquiry fulfillment package?

50. Should we be more vigorous in our program of follow-up mailings and phone calls?

BOB BLY is an independent copywriter and consultant with more than 25 years of experience in business-to-business, high-tech, industrial, and direct marketing.

He has written copy for over 100 clients including Network Solutions, ITT Fluid Technology, Medical Economics, Intuit, Business & Legal Reports, and Brooklyn Union Gas … and has won numerous industry awards.

Bob is the author of more than 70 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Direct Marketing (Alpha Books) and The Copywriter’s Handbook (Henry Holt & Co.). His articles have appeared in numerous publications such as DM News, Writer’s Digest, mtrak Express, Cosmopolitan, Inside Direct Mail, and Bits & Pieces for Salespeople. Visit:

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