Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Don't call us, we'll call you!

I saw a promotion for the above titled webinar. I looked back at the direct marketing field and started thinking about what response looked like in the past. Thirty years ago people got a mailing for a product or service, (postal only by the way) and either went to the store to make their purchase OR, made a phone call if it was for a catalog. Then, email became a household method of communication. Although visiting a store and calling a call center continued to be key, people got used to seeing an email, clicking on the link and ordering their product or service.

Life got easier, more streamlined, but as with all new methods of marketing it too had its problems. People would load their cart, then abandon them. They would respond to an email, click through and discover that what they thought they wanted, wasn't really what they expected. Forms asked for too much information so people just left, or they found that there are many more interesting things to click on than fill out a form or order.

Fast forward to the current environment and phones are as complex as a home computer. Everything that used to require a printed catalog and call center are now in our hand, accessible 24/7. I believe we have become overwhelmed with information. Everyone wanting a part of our time, a piece of our life. To the point where people no longer want to give their information to companies without a compelling reason to do so. Why? They know that the followup inundation of mail, phone calls or email will be more than they wanted. Which, brings me to the title of this blog.

People have developed the attitude of "If I want what you're offering, I will call you". I admit, I do this a lot. I get more advertisements (mostly email) from list managers pushing their latest and greatest list. Are these valuable to me? Not really. It's just more junk to delete and not particularly relevant. There are two sources that list every direct marketing list on the market. SRDS and NextMark and primary search engines for direct mail/email/telemarketing lists. Why keep or respond to an email for a new, updated list, when I can type in a few keywords and get a complete list of all lists on the market? It turns out, I have been using the Don't call us, we'll call you approach for years! I just didn't realize it.

What else does this new attitude toward our marketing message mean? Tracking sales is more critical than ever. Where did an order come from? If you do an email campaign, get an order but not from on line, where did that customer get the information they needed to order or attend your school? I guarantee you that if you have been doing billboards, broadcast ads, direct mail and email campaigns you likely have NO idea where your leads are actually coming from.

I had a client who spent hundreds of dollars on inserts in coupon packets. I did an analysis (at their request) of performance, added a user code, tracked it for 3 months and discovered that what they thought was a fabulous lead generation tool, generated zero response. NO ONE used their coupons to call and attend their school. Instead, their direct mail program generated over 50,000 leads over a period of years. Enough for them to call and follow up to attract new students.

The key to all of these changes in customer response is to build a system to track where your customers are actually coming from. Ask them. If you're a school in Higher Education, go to your Adult Students and ask "What brought you to our school?" It's simple, Ask and you will find out so much about your prospects and how to reach them. BUT, remember they are likely calling YOU, not responding in a way that you expect or anticipate.

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