The second in a series of three articles on contact campaigns by Stu Heinecke.

I just told you how contact campaigns can cure the low response rates many direct marketers are experiencing. In this installment, we’ll examine the critical elements necessary to launch a successful contact campaign.


  • Understand the mission You won’tbe using contact campaigns to reach a mass audience — you can’tafford to waste this sort of firepower on low-priority prospects.But if you pay attention to the basics, your contact campaignwill give your sales or telemarketing staff the ability to getin touch with virtually anyone.
  • Get your list right Contact campaignpieces are generally very expensive — you can easily spend tensto hundreds of dollars per unit. So be very selective about whogets on the list and what their potential is. And don’t forgetto include present customers who could be doing more businesswith you.
  • Get noticed Your creative mustdo two things: get you noticed and demonstrate the quality ofyour thinking. So your concepts must be bold, captivating, wellthought-out and unexpected, while tieing neatly into your salesmessage. When I use a personalized cartoon as a contact piece,for example, I make sure the gag leads to a point of agreementabout a need the recipient faces, so I already have a strong lead-into my letter and a compelling reason to ask for an appointmentor referral. Contact pieces often warrant exotic production anddelivery methods as compared to direct mail pieces, includingelements of hand-work and overnight delivery. Steer clear of outrightgifts and boxed items. Some companies and most government agencieshave strict policies against accepting gifts, and unsolicitedboxed items may not make it through some of today’s security-consciousmailrooms.
  • Follow up Since you or your salesor telemarketing reps are the response mechanism for your contactcampaign, it requires your diligent effort to ensure each recipientis contacted once their campaign piece arrives. Your reps shouldbe trained and prepared with scripts so they don’t waste the recipient’stime — or the sales opportunity once contact has occurred.
  • Build in flexibility When you’redealing with an important CEO, it is likely you’ll do your biddingthrough an assistant. Make that assistant your ally by includingthem in the campaign. The only way to do that is to build in flexibility,so you can produce additional contact pieces on demand. If yourcampaign is alluring, you’ll be fielding requests for extras fromother important executives in the target company, which meansyou’re achieving critical visibility. Make sure you are readyto respond quickly and capitalize.
  • Define success Your contact campaignis a lot like an introduction from an insider — once you getin, you’d better be prepared to sell on the merits of what youhave to offer. Face-to-face meetings and top-down referrals arethe gold standard for contact campaign response. And if you dothis right, you can expect those response rates to regularly approachor exceed 80%.

Find out how one marketer used a lost wallet and 500 guitar cases to lure thousands of visitors to Memphis, and how another achieved a 100% response to an appointment-generation campaign in Contact Campaign Gallery, the final installment of this series. If you have a contact success story you’d like to share with the readers, please contact the author immediately below.

For more information, contact Stu Heinecke at [email protected] or visit