5 Tips for Using Direct Mail for Ad Agency New Business

direct mail ad agency new business

Direct mail isn’t dead as a tactic for ad agency new business.

When everyone Zigs, maybe you should Zag. So much attention is being given to online tactics, it may be a good time to do the opposite and utilize some offline tactics such as direct mail to raise awareness for your agency and stay top-of-mind with prospects.

A lot of small to midsize advertising agencies fail at their own direct mail efforts because they give up after only a couple of mailings when there is little or no results. Direct mail isn’t dead. But it’s not very effective unless it is used consistently and that is usually a problem for most agencies. We are always our own worst client. 

Your agency is probably like most. When things get busy with client work, work for the agency is often neglected.  Here are 5 tips to keep your direct mail project moving: 

1. Keep the creative process simple.

I’ve seen a number of agencies attempt to design some very elaborate mailers, one-at a time. This isn’t good use of your agency’s creative energy. Have your creative department design an entire campaign, 12 mail pieces, an oversized postcard would suffice.  Have them printed an on the shelf read to mail each month.

You can also mix in other types of mailings such as personal letters, hand written notes, self mailers. You can also send work in expensive boxes to high target prospects.

Locomotion Creative printed a case study and creative sample on post cards that could also be sent as an entire collection in an elegant box.

When it was learned that search consultants often complained about the size of mailings received from agencies and one search consultant said, “Whatever you send me, make sure it can fit in a standard file folder.” So the Lewis Communications created a unique folder just for search consultants.

2. Treat this project  like a project for your agency’s most important client. 

Open a job, develop a creative brief and have a start date and hard deadline for delivery so that it gets done.

3. Use a direct mail service. 

Let them print, pre-sort and stamp for efficiency and savings. I’ve learned that the more things you can outsource, the more consistent your efforts will be. You not only save time, but you can save money.

4. Purchase a mailing list.

Most agencies don’t have the time and resources to develop and maintain their own database. Executive positions change often. Shop around and purchase a targeted list of companies. Purchase a list for 1 to 2 years and multi-use. Names, titles and addresses plus phone numbers that you can use for your “warm call” program.

5. Have a strong call to action.

Here’s an example: What is the first step that you “normally” take with a new client? Perhaps this exploratory session, market audit or brand audit could be something that you could carve out as a “first step” for prospective clients. A good value that would at least pay for your time and also eliminate the “tire kickers.”  You have personal face-time with a qualified prospect.

Additional articles that may be of interest:

photo credit: ConanTheLibrarian via photo pin cc

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


  1. Good ideas Michael. Among the most successful new biz efforts I ever came up with was when I sent a talking Lost in Space robot that said Danger Danger to execs at RIM to offer help in fighting off Steve Wozniak’s Danger Research (bought by Microsoft I think) who were rumored to be working on the “Blackberry killer” early in the smart phone wars. It was in a very creative box and it got me in and we won the biz. Too bad it was before BB started spending lots of money but either way we won.

    Second was an ongoing postcard effort targeted at open source software co Red Hat, which pictured unlikely people wearing the Red Hat red baseball hat. One featured open source non fan Bil Gates and the headline, “Hey, it could happen.” Again, this got me in the door and the CEO told me his dad had that one on his bulletin board in his office. We didn’t end up winning the biz but that is a whole other crazy story.

    These were both a ways back, but I think old school stuff can still work, but you need to do a good job of it to have it really break through.

  2. Thanks for sharing Eric. Very cool ideas.

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