Six Ways to Avoid B-to-B Marketing Irrelevance
by Bob Hacker
In the January 18, 1999 issue of Advertising Age I ran across this chilling statement by Editor in Chief Rance Crain, "Advertising's failure to produce results is reaching epic proportions … advertising can't be counted on to deliver upward sales momentum when it's most needed."
I was reminded of a session I attended at an AdWeek seminar. I sneaked into a new business development seminar for general advertising agency principals. The seminar leader started with the following question, "Do your clients still think advertising works?" The agency presidents agreed that their clients still believed in advertising. His next line was, "Good, then I won't have to change my presentation this session."
My personal response in both cases was, "Thank God I'm in direct marketing, not advertising." We still take responsibility for helping our clients make sales and hit their ROI expectations. But I fear the same mindset that infected advertising may be creeping into direct marketing. If we fall prey to the same fey cult, we risk the same irrelevance they face now.
B-to-b direct marketers can continue to make direct marketing relevant to the bottom line by adhering to six simple tenets.
1. Direct marketing is a selling process, not an entertainment event. We must never lose our sense of purpose: to start or facilitate the selling process. Our job is not to brand, position, entertain or enlighten.
2. Build your plan around hitting the ROI goal. Focus on changing behavior, not mindset. Only action—generating a lead or making a sale—can directly contribute to ROI. If you don't hit your ROI target, budget won't be allocated for it. If budget isn't allocated, you become irrelevant. By focusing on ROI, you will also force yourself to establish proper performance standards for every campaign element.
Most of the questions required to build an ROI plan are not included in most marketing and communication plans. Typically you must set the following targets before creative is begun: