The Secret Marketer on cold calling by agencies


As a marketing director, I get my fair share of cold calls and new business mailings. Fewer people can be bothered to pick up the phone these days, most aim straight for my inbox. This approach may be faster, cheaper and some might argue has a greater chance of reaching me than a phone call, but I doubt whether it scores highly when it comes to conversion and effectiveness. As much as persistent cold callers do irritate, they are undoubtedly harder to get rid off than an email.

Then there are those traditionalists who continue to support the Royal Mail and their local print shop by producing mountains of glossy brochures. It is the equivalent of junk mail only far more disappointing, given it comes from agencies asking me to hire them as my communications expert.

The worst culprits are those that send brochures containing boring pages detailing their utterly boring general credentials and allegedly proprietary brand planning and insight tools and processes.

These are closely rivalled by those global network agencies that choose to supply a world map highlighting where their particular office fits in the kingdom.

“I have not yet appointed an agency on the strength of its network boasts”

I tend to tear these out as the maps are sometimes useful for my holiday planning or kids’ geography homework, but I have not yet appointed an agency on the strength of its network boasts. More often than not I suspect the agencies themselves have not even met their international cousins, so why send me a mailing claiming that they are such a close-knit family?

I flick through the post on my desk every day and once in a while the odd thing does stand out. This week it was a double-sided postcard flyer from the boys at 490 in Leeds.

I have never met these guys but l loved their mailing. On the front was a brutally untouched moody picture of all five of the likely lads looking rather like the back-up cast of Reservoir Dogs. The headline read: “They don’t do Facebook, they don’t do blogs, they don’t do Twitter…. they do packaging.” On the reverse the copy leads with the headline that “Expertise is rare these days.” I loved the tone and I love agencies that tell it as it is.

Sadly lads I am not able to give you any work as it would destroy my anonymity, but I do hope that you are pleased that your campaign has already gone viral. It’s just a shame you only do packaging.


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