Lessons from Aspen
By Denny Hatch
My wife, Peggy, and I attended the infoUSA/ Donnelley Privacy Conference in Aspen, CO, at the end of July. The highlight of the entire weekend was Paul Wang, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing at Northwestern University. In the rarefied world of keynote speeches, Paul Wang is the killer app.
First of all, Wang talks so fast—and with such energy and enthusiasm—the entire session is one perpetual crescendo, rather like Sibelius' symphony "Finlandia." It isn't easy taking notes when someone talks that fast, but Wang keeps his students awake. As well as being insightful and brilliant, he's funny as hell. For instance, after making a few points, Wang looked around the room. "Okay so far?" he asked. "Okay? Just nod yes." Eight people nodded yes. "Ah, eight people out of 200," Wang crowed. "I'm in direct marketing. In direct marketing that's a big success!"
A Paul Wang Sampler
Some "Wangisms" from the presentation:
>Direct marketing is not about occasionally doing extraordinary things. You must build an emotional connection with the customer, and that's not easy. A marketer has to do ordinary things extraordinarily well at all times.
>Don't overpromise and underdeliver. Building brand means consistent delivery. Underpromise and overdeliver, and customers will come back. It's a fact that internal morale is higher in companies that underpromise and overdeliver.
>Data hygiene is everything. If a customer tells you how and when to reach him, put that in the database and act on it. If he doesn't want to be called during dinner, don't call him at dinnertime.
>You want to generate more sales? Sure, go ahead and cut prices. That's a quick fix that'll give you ROI within six months. But cutting prices is not a sustainable advantage. Everybody can cut prices.
Someone once surveyed customers shopping in the three discount office supply stores: Office Depot, Office Max and Staples. When asked, "What store are you in?", 60 percent of the customers gave the wrong answer. Every morning the managers of these three stores go out and check prices at the two competing stores looking for the deal of the day, and then match it. The more you match the discounts, the thinner your profits become.