Famous Last Words Are You a Direct Marketer, Really?
By Denny Hatch
Robert Coates is a direct marketer out of Oregon who specializes in the financial services area. After years of knowing about each other, we finally had a joint client and attended a meeting in Chicago. Coates looked at me at one point and said, "Do you know how to tell a true direct marketer?"
"If you give a person a list of names and addresses in hard copy and he or she starts reading it—name by name—it's a clear indication of a fascination with people, their names, their addresses, the names of their streets."
"I qualify," I said. "Reading a list is like eating peanuts. I can't stop."
When I look at names on a list, I begin to imagine families, what they look like and how they dress. If it is a business list, I find myself thinking, "How did these folks come up with this name for a company?"
When I attend direct marketing conferences and hear lectures by database professionals, my mind wanders. I remember one very high-powered, articulate woman describing how databases work and how data are segmented and put in "buckets." Her PowerPoint presentation actually showed buckets.
Having grown up on the shore, to me buckets are things that hold bait, chum or clams. People do not belong in buckets. People belong in offices, homes, cars, riding lawn mowers, shooting baskets and wolfing down ribs and beer while they cheer for the home team.
One reason Franklin D. Roosevelt is universally regarded as one of our greatest presidents was his ability to connect with people through his radio addresses, which he called "fireside chats." Speaking from a desk in the White House, Roosevelt was not talking to a microphone. Rather he imagined one family sitting around a kitchen table listening with rapt attention to the Atwater Kent radio that sometimes crackled with static. He spoke clearly with great folksy warmth and a uniquely patrician accent, rather like an infinitely patient and loving, rich uncle. We not only believed him, but also believed in him. He was elected to four terms.