Case Study: 

Employment firm lead generation

Marketing Challenge

A technical placement employment firm, which provides highly skilled technical employees on a contract basis to the technology industry, seeks to build its database of available contractors.


Direct Marketing Application

B2B Employment Firm Lead Generation


This medium-sized placement firm serves all types of technology businesses by providing highly skilled — and often uniquely skilled — employees to work on a contract basis.

When we were first brought into the company, business was strong. The company had a good base of clients and was able to satisfy those clients with an extensive and diverse group of contractors.

However, company executives were concerned about the future. They were expecting the demand for contractors to increase in the years to come as more companies found it necessary to downsize beyond their realistic operational levels. These firms would then periodically need to bring back employees and would look to contractors to fill that need.

What We Recommended

Our first step was to determine which types of professionals the firm wanted to recruit. This meant developing a preferred audience profile. Through client input, we were able to identify several specialized audience groups, each reflecting contractor skills expected to be in increased demand.

Once profiles were established, we then identified 15 to 20 mailing lists (mostly trade publications and associations) that gave us approximate matches to our profile groups. We also identified several magazines and card decks which reached the same audience.

By targeting these lists (rather than using current contractor lists), we were expecting to find people who were currently employed — some of whom might be considering the contracting option in the future.  Although we were happy to add current contractors to the database, our chief objective was to reach and identify future contractors.

What We Did

We developed an offer aimed at professionals hoping to identify those who had given some thought to contracting. The offer was a free brochure, “The Truth About Contracting,” providing answers to the most common questions people have about being a contractor.

In addition to the brochure, we created a direct mail letter package — a personalized closed face envelope, a one-page letter, reply form and business reply envelope. The envelope was very business-like with no teaser copy because most prospects would receive the mail at their offices. We also created a small direct response ad with a coupon and small postcard to be inserted in an industry card-deck package.

Each reply device asked several questions to help us qualify respondents. We also asked respondents to provide their home address because future contact with these prospects would be better handled through the home address. The reply devices were also marked with codes to allow us to measure response from each mailing list.

The direct mail package (offering the brochure) was sent to ten targeted lists and list segments. The ads ran in three publications and the postcard was inserted in two card deck packages.

How It Worked

The direct mail produced response rates of between 9% and 13% depending on the list — an extremely high response rate by any measure but especially when mailing to outside lists (as opposed to a customer/prospect database). The average 11% response rate gave us an approximate cost per lead of just $7.

The ads and card decks were also big producers although, because these were less targeted than the direct mail, many of the respondents had skills outside of our profile.

Most impressive, however, was the large percentage of the respondents (40-50% depending on the list) who were highly qualified—meaning that they met our skill requirements and expressed at least a “near-term interest” in becoming a contractor. This was based on the answers provided on the reply device.

Three tiers of leads were established for follow-up. The most serious responses were given directly to the direct sales force for immediate follow-up. A second tier was given to a separate telemarketing group for follow-up. And a third tier (those who admitted they had just a “long-term interest”) was added to the database for direct mail follow-up only.

Subsequent Activity

Although all lists were successful in terms of response rate, some lists produced better quality responses because they provided better targeted selection criteria. Additional mailings to these lists produced similar results.

The company decided to use a similar lead generation strategy to attract new business — that is, to find companies that would hire their new contractors. In this campaign, we developed another booklet — a Q&A on hiring contractors — then offered it through a similar letter package. This campaign produced a more typical result with an average 3% response rate.