A Baker's Dozen of Reality Checks for Direct Marketers
People are people. They may hold fancy gadgets in their hands, and they may speak strangely, using words like tweeting, Facebooking and Googling. But they're still people who have the same sensitivities as those who reacted favorably to John Caples' legendary ad copy, "They laughed when I sat down at the piano," says Debra Ellis, president of Wilson & Ellis Consulting of Asheville, N.C.
The marketing consultant/social media maven just released a guidebook for direct marketers who may believe that the Bluetooths permanently attached to many heads have actually started to alter brain chemistry. "The Reality Check Manifesto" provides a dozen such bullet points:
- The purpose of business is to serve customers at a profit. Businesses need to make a profit in order to survive. Public demands of something for nothing are unrealistic.
- Conversations are important, but they are only part of the buying decision. Marketers still need to promote their businesses to create desire and motivate consumers to buy.
- Allowing others to tell your story is playing Russian roulette with your brand and business. Have the brand message originate from within your company.
- Tools change, but human nature remains the same.
- Your marketing strategy must adapt to changing customer dynamics. The global economy means that consumers can shop around. "The only way left to differentiate your company is with consumer relations," Ellis writes.
- Understanding customer dynamics is the difference between success and failure. Data is the key.
- It's harder to lose customers than it is to keep them. Inertia often dominates bad relationships; be the good relationship customers want to keep.
- Social media is an effective marketing channel for a segment of your customers. Other people like other channels (i.e., some people still enjoy making phone calls).
- E-mail is still the most effective and efficient tool in your marketing workshop, Ellis claims. Yes, mass, impersonal e-mails no longer work, but targeted e-mails that blend social media with direct marketing are getting results.
- Analytics are valuable if they are used to improve your business. If it's not useful, it's wasting time, she says.
- Companies don't fail because of calculated risks; they fail because management doesn't know they are taking risks. Keep lines of communication open between departments, and create an early warning system for problems.
- Focusing on costs blinds you to opportunity. Create sustainable growth, she explains, by balancing cost containment with ideas for increasing revenue.
- What's this, a bonus? The conclusion, that the best business models integrate tools, channels, departments and divisions, sure sounds like an additional bit of advice.