4 Old-school Lead Generation Techniques That Still Work Today

4 Old-school Lead Generation Techniques That Still Work Today

It might seem a bit odd a digital marketing agency shouting about old-school lead generation tactics, but the fact is, we don’t care if a tactic is more Flintstones than it is Jetson’s: if something works, it works and shouldn’t be overlooked.

The fact is that just because something is new doesn’t necessarily make it any good, and for the large majority of businesses out there, the tried and tested methods are still as applicable now as they were 10, 50 and even thousands of years ago on ancient market stalls.

On the flipside of the coin, it goes without saying that the world has changed a lot in the recent years and not everything that used to work will still work these days.

So, which old-school lead generation techniques are still effective today? And how should you be implementing them to grow your business?

1. Networking

This lead generation technique has been around since the dawn of time.

These days, networking can be a bit overlooked just because there are so many fruitless, pointless events out there where you end up standing in a corner with some random bloke in his Matalan suit banging on about how he smashed his sales target last year.

However, pick the right networking events (and go with the right plan) and results can come pouring in.

The first key is in finding a good event to go to, which can be easier said than done.

Instead of going to your industry events, go to those of your target industries instead.

While that might sound obvious, many people fall into the trap of going where their competitors will be, rather than their prospects.

The next key is to go into the events with a conversation that you want to have in mind.

Of course, you’ll need to do a bit of ice-breaking, weather/sports-related chat, but make sure you move each conversation swiftly on to your chosen topic of choice.

Before you can give too much detail, pass on your card and say you’re pressed for time but that you’ll continue the conversation on a call tomorrow/next week.

This is the perfect way to build intrigue and your network without getting stuck in one conversation with Matalan Mike or Primark Paul all day long.

Top Tip: Go with the intent of setting up meetings when speaking to potential influencers/clients within your target industries. 


2. Direct Mail

Since the first email was sent in 70’s emails have been an integral part of our lives ever since.

We receive thousands of emails per month and let’s not lie, 90% of them are utter garbage. 

This is why business owners have now started to use direct mail again.

Direct mail allows you to reach your target audience physically, rather than virtually, which acts as a refreshing change to today’s digital noise.

As a lead generation technique, direct mail can be very effective if executed correctly. 

We’ve used an approach called ABM ( Account Based Marketing) in the past to great effect.

This is where we target a specific wish-list of companies and identify the decision makers within them we need to influence.

We then create content around those people.

This is a highly effective technique as we can have the ability to personalise a piece of work directly for a client/prospect’s pain points and personality.

You then send this out via mail and follow up with a call.

Follow the steps below: 

  • Highlight the specific person or people within an industry that you want to target with your services.
  • Create an email that is targeted and tailored to that specific person. 
  • Personalise the content to the individual (include their name, offer discounts and incentives) 
  • The content within the email needs to be engaging and your aim is to try and build a warm conversation. 
  • Once sent, be patient and wait to see if they reply.

Top tip: It’s all about being direct. Do something different. Letters are boring, send something physical that represents your point.

Strategy Banner for Blog2

3. Cold calling


I’m sure we’ve all heard that one before.

No matter what anyone says, it definitely still works. 

I mean just ask Liam Neeson, it might’ve taken a bit of effort but he closed the deal.

In its peak, Cold calling used to be the go-to method of sales.

It’s what everybody knew and what everybody actually wanted to do thanks to films like the Wolf of Wall Street and Boiler Room. 

On average, a salesperson makes 150 cold calls per day.

This may seem a lot but back in the early 2000s over 200+ calls were made with a conversion percentage dropping from 10% down to 2%.

It doesn’t take an expert to realise that the effectiveness of this old school lead generation technique is decreasing. 

And that’s where marketing comes in.

Marketers have developed a solution to help, in order to make that initial conversation warm before the call even happens. 

This tactic is called content marketing and involves creating blogs, guides, articles and more to warm up a potential conversation, giving a prospect more information about your company and your services before you speak.

Your marketing team should be aligned with your sales department and have a steady pipeline of content that goes out each month.

This works in two ways: it helps more people to find you online through search engines, meaning more inbound phone calls (very warm), and also works to warm up customers you’ve already spoken to, ensuring that when you get back in touch in a few months’ time or more, they actually remember who you are.

Content is also a great conversation starter:

“Hi Mike, I see you read our blog on the 4 old-school lead generation tactics that still work, are you currently looking for new ways to generate leads by any chance?”

Instantly, you can speak more in depth about it and understand a particular issue or offer help to the prospect. Then it’s down to you and your sales skills to build a relationship and close the deal.

Top tip: Don’t be thrown by people hanging up, it’s not necessarily you or your script. People almost find answering the phone to businesses now a task as they have received so many cold calls before. Be patient and use content to warm up the target first. 


4. Referrals

When it comes to old-school B2B lead generation tactics, you may have forgotten a crucial one: referrals. 

Word of mouth leads are some of the best you can get; if you begin to get people talking about you, you start to build a real reputation for yourself. The issue is that traditionally, Word of Mouth leads are unreliable; as they’re often so sporadic, it can be hard to know when they’ll come in and when they can’t.

Subsequently: you can’t build a serious business on Word of Mouth leads alone; if you don’t get any for a month or two, you’ll struggle for growth.

So what can be done to inspire more referrals and create a sold, reliable stream of them?

A referral program is a deliberate, systematic way of getting people to make referrals to your business. 

Referral programs reward existing customers for spreading the word. Inherently, humans are selfish, and hoping they’ll spread the word isn’t enough. Giving them a reason to do so can, therefore, be one of the best ways to generate more inbound enquiries. The trick is to set up a referral scheme that offers some sort of commission for introductions, paid once a deal goes through.

For example, we could offer a £50 Amazon voucher if you refer a contacts’ business that goes ahead and works with us.


Top tip: Make the incentive something worth the effort. Nobody wants to earn a £5 HomeBargains voucher. Have a think about your target audience and what matters to them.

IN Summary

At the end of the day, leads are leads and it doesn’t really matter how you get them, as long they quality and they come through the door on a regular basis.

It is best practice to load your arsenal with as many lead generation tactics as possible, however.

Using a balance of new-school, digital marketing and old-school, traditional sales, you can create a constant stream of enquiries into your business, ensuring your business grows at a steady rate.

Have you grown your business to a certain point and are now looking for new ways to generate leads? Check out our latest marketing strategy guide to work out the best way of taking your business to the next level.

Strategy Banner for Blog2

For more on our Lead Generation services, click here.

Catalyst Marketing Agency - Leads that close guide

How to Generate Leads that Close: The Ultimate Guide

This guide details what to do to create a website that delivers leads, why you need to do it and more importantly, how to do it.

Download guide

About the author

Sarah Groves has worked in marketing for over 20 years. 

She’s worked across a wide range of B2B and B2C sectors, both big blue chips and SMEs. As co-owner of Catalyst, Sarah draws on her broad experience to oversee the delivery team and help input into client strategies. She’s built a curated team from the best talent across copy, design, SEO, PPC and strategy, providing you with the most cost-efficient way to grow your business and thrive. 

When Sarah’s not working, you’ll find her spending time with her young family, or taking the dog for a long walk while listening to a podcast. 


Sarah Groves