Free Marketing Course – Lesson #17 – Lead Generation Techniques For Dummies

Today I received a lead generating sales letter in the mail that both impressed and annoyed me. If you do any kind of marketing to attract new business this is a lesson you should print and read offline

Are you seeking new clients?

If so, this is a lesson you will probably get a lot out of. Yesterday I received a letter in my mailbox from a company seeking leads for their software services. No, they were not writing to hire me. They were simply sending a letter to all subscribers of a particular Value Added Reseller (VAR) magazine I subscribe to. 

Take a look at this letter:

(click to enlarge)

Here’s what I liked and disliked about this letter.


  • Proactive in seeking leads themselves
  • Identified exactly who they want to respond, i.e. VAR’s having trouble prospecting
  • Specific offer (the free guide)
  • Emotional ‘not your fault’ headline
  • Specific call to action right above the closing
  • Weasel word ‘probably’ used as a psychological persuasion tool (works great at defusing resistance)


  • The cost: with a circulation of 105,000 subscribers, mailing costs of about $1 for each letter adds up pretty quickly. Even more so if you plan to mail to this group often. Besides the cost of postage and printing, there’s the inherent waste that comes from mailing “blind”. Not everyone who received this letter is actually qualified or even interested in the offer. Me included. I’m not a VAR. I’m a business strategist who prefers working with VARS and other technology companies.
  • The content: despite all the good that exists in this letter, the entire paragraph talking about Sage Software has got to go. When it comes to lead generating, no one gives a crap about who we are or what we do. The only thing that matters is what is in it for the reader i.e. the free information guide.  Everything about this piece was near perfect as a lead generation device until that paragraph.
  • The name of the report: What Every VAR Should Expect From a Software Vendor screams, “sales pitch!” The title clearly indicates a specific vendor wrote the guide to hammer away at promoting their own products to me the reader. The title may hinder response significantly.  I’d try a ‘consumer’ oriented approach along the lines of these:
    • High Tech Prospecting For VAR’s: How To Attract Qualified Leads Without Cold Calling
    • Prospecting: Innovative Techniques to Get Your Foot in the Door Without Cold Calling

Still, overall this is a good piece. If you plan to prospect to a few hundred or even a thousand or so ‘ideal clients’, a direct mail approach might make sense. But if you plan to reach tens of thousands or even 100,000 or more ‘blind’ prospects Don’t Copy This Approach. This approach has a tremendous amount of waste.

There is a better way.

Sage software should have used that money, or at least a portion of it to test a lead generation ad directly in the magazine. That way they only mail to interested people and eliminate as much waste as possible. Plus, they would have seen an immediate savings of $96,500. A 1/4 page ad in this publication only costs $8,500 to reach out to the same number of readers.

About Andre Bell
Andre strives to help marketers discover the near-immediate impact of honest ethical marketing practices. He has advised hundreds of business owners on how to keep their dignity as they implement direct response marketing methods that work. Andre is one of only a handful of remaining professionals who can boast having become an online marketer a decade before the World Wide Web came into existence. And as a serial entrepreneur Andre launched his first direct mail business around the age of 12-years old. He has been building and advising ever since.

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