Too many client “communications” whizzes and general advertising/PR agency people disdain direct marketing. They’re polite but get a few drinks in them and you’ll learn that they just hate our guts.
I’ve run into it a lot and it no longer scares me but it still puzzles me. Direct marketing can’t fail on a major scale because we plan carefully, test small and roll out gradually. Plus DM allows precision tracking and generates better and better results every time out. So whence the scorn?
It took a while, but the lights gradually went on. They hate us for at least seven very good reasons.
1. In advertising agencies, the direct marketing “departments” can wind up with a huge chunk of the advertising guys’ budgets if the clients actually care about sales.
2. Direct marketing is difficult. It takes a lot more detailed planning than the other disciplines.
3. There’s almost no room for opinions because direct marketing allows for objective answers.
4. Direct marketing can get results so exact that you can learn how well it’s doing to within a nickel. In other words, DM is accountable and that scares the pants off some people.
5. Direct marketing is not cool. There’s no room for funky, edgy, creative for creative’s-sake.
6. Its focus is on the prospect/customer not on the company.
7. If there’s a serious disagreement on approach, you can test inexpensively.
All seven of these attributes are deeply offensive to ambitious and talented wannabe cutting-edge mavericks. They’re albatrosses around the necks of avant garde creative critters.
Believe it or not, making money, acquiring and keeping customers, and building solid customer relationships can be annoying secondary considerations. It’s more important to stroke egos, be ultra cool, and, occasionally, jet off to New Zealand for a location shoot.
John Wannamaker, 19th Century department store mogul, is reported to have said: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
Direct marketers could have told him: “We might, maybe, waste a small percentage of your budget at the start. After that, it’s all good.”