Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Is "Direct" going directly into the garbage?

I drove to Toronto and then onto Guelph this weekend for a friend's stag and doe.  Normally, drives of that length would be insanely boring but I was able to download a bunch of archived shows of my favorite podcasts.

I tweeted about this episode of The Beancast (link directly to mp3 of it here) and I can't say enough about how much I really enjoyed the discussion.  It really spoke to something I was thinking about back in the fall and something that came up recently in a job interview.

I was interviewing at a software company for job that was going to be very much focused on direct marketing, particularly email marketing, which something I have a strong background in.  The interviewer asked me what "levers" I believe that I can pull as a marketer.  My answer centered around segmentation, offer, presentation, pricing and the like.  He countered that he liked to think of it as audience times response.  So if you need more sales, just get a larger audience or increase the response rate.

I replied saying that I felt that it was too simple to look at things that way because you're forgetting that not everyone is going to respond directly to the promotion.  Essentially, you are forgetting about the entire marketing ecosystem that exists out there, which is something that if you're using analytics, you can actually see.  For example, I worked at a company and we noticed that email marketing campaigns led to increases in search volume... meaning, email recipients would receive the email and then to a search engine to find the company or search for products.  I suspect in some cases, they might have been looking for deals elsewhere (hence why you need to have your channel strategy well planned out in advance folks).

And that's why I really enjoyed the discussion on that particular episode of the Beancast... the panel was talking about how marketers are all too quick to think about direct marketing something as simple as audience times response rates.  I think these marketers are the same ones that often play really loose with permission levels.  They say to themselves "hey, if somebody isn't an open or a click or a purchase, the message didn't register and I can hit them up again next week".  This is the type of attitude that I think is all to pervasive in marketing and one that I believe gives the field a bad name.

Worse, who wants to work at a firm that likes to market itself in this manner?

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