There’s a New Contact Marketing Movement Producing Shocking Levels of Response and ROI. Are You Part of It?

Marketing and sales have always been housed in separate silos. But there is a new marketing movement afoot that is changing all of that—contact marketing—which is generating metrics that are hard to believe, and even harder to ignore.

Inevitably, marketing teams are frustrated by the sales team’s lack of success converting their hard-earned leads to sales. And sales teams are frustrated by the constant stream of unqualified leads spewed by marketing’s “pipeline,” which often distracts them from finding and closing truly-qualified prospects.

Account-based marketing gives some relief, as it gives both teams an agreed set of targeted companies that both believe will result in greater sales volumes. But the sales team still needs to find a way in.

And that’s where the new contact marketing movement is taking root.

The approach is completely different from the traditional intersection of marketing and sales. It’s based on micro-focused campaigns designed to create contact with a small audience of critically-important prospects who, if they were to become clients, can result in explosive expansion of scale.

It’s not based on a pipeline bloated with leads of questionable value. It is based on knowing to whom you want to sell and making it happen with sniper-like precision. And it is uniting the two camps in a way that has marketing supporting sales with surprising levels of success.

It’s not unusual for some contact marketing campaigns to achieve response rates of 50% or more, with some that reach 100%, a number always considered impossible. The resulting ROI figures are equally shocking, often reaching into the tens, even hundreds of thousands of percent.


The NoWait App’s launch campaign is a classic example of contact marketing in action. The app converts smart phones into the “your table is ready” paging pucks so many restaurants use to notify you when your table is ready. With the app, you don’t have to check into the restaurant and wait in an overstuffed waiting section an hour for a table. You can just request your table from anywhere and show up when it’s ready.

When it came time to launch, NoWait took a huge gamble. Their entire campaign was directed to just thirty people. But these people were the CEOs of the top thirty restaurant chains in America (of those who seat their guests).

The campaign consisted of a three-part video introduction, each personalized to each CEO, then delivered on an iPad in custom NoWait App packaging. The videos showed the problem in each targeted restaurant chain and concluded with their CEO talking directly into the camera to the CEO of each chain.

As a result, 80% of the recipients responded and the app is now rolled out in twenty of the top restaurant chains in America. One small campaign resulted in widespread adoption of the app.


My introduction to contact marketing came years ago, when I discovered I could reach almost anyone with my cartoons. We still use cartoons now to help enterprise sales teams gain entry to their top accounts and prospects.

One of those clients is a Fortune 250 giant whose sales team was struggling to connect with their “Global Accounts,” a concentrated collection of the biggest companies in the world.

Essentially, they weren’t getting in at all until we launched a cartoon-based campaign that changed their contact rate from zero to 75%, also netting meetings with 50% of their targeted contacts.

There are many more examples; blogger and turnaround specialist Dan Waldschmidt’s swords have generated a consistent near-100% response rate, Rick Tobin’s birthday cupcake that brought a $200K deal, the messenger pigeon that landed a meeting with one of the most famous CEOs in the world and generated a $250K deal.


Contact marketing is a sniper-shot strategy that uses micro-focused campaigns to generate contact with VIP prospects and accounts, but that probably doesn’t paint a vivid picture of what it actually is.

In my book, How to Get a Meeting with Anyone, I identified twenty categories of Contact Marketing campaigns. They range from various forms of gifts (half of a gift, re-gifts, art/humor/film and visual metaphors) to compelling uses of research, insight, audits and media exposure to wildly over-the-top methodologies.

The most common form of contact marketing is occurring right under our noses, every time we log on to our social media feeds. LinkedIn is not only facilitating direct connections, it’s serving more and more as a base platform to create connections on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms that are leading to critically important, business-driving contacts.

The ultimate goal of contact marketing is to allow sales and marketing teams to coordinate efforts to win more business with the companies and people who can most change the scale of their enterprise. But it’s not just about gaining someone’s attention, it’s about doing it in a way that has them saying, “I love the way this person thinks. We’ve got to meet.”

If you can do that, you can achieve anything.

About the author

Stu Heinecke is one of The Wall Street Journal cartoonists, a hall-of-fame-nominated marketer and author of the best-selling book, How to Get a Meeting with Anyone. He is currently writing two new books on the subject, one a collection of contact marketing case studies, the other focusing on LinkedIn as a contact marketing springboard. He is based on a pristine, forested island in the Pacific Northwest.