Letter From Vienna
Martins said, ‘Have you ever visited the children’s hospital? Have you seen any of your victims?’
Harry took a look at the toy landscape below and came away from the door. ‘I never feel quite safe in these things,’ he said. He felt the back of the door with his hand, as though he were afraid that it might fly open and launch him into that iron-ribbed space.
‘Victims?’ he asked. ‘Don’t be melodramatic, Holley. Look down there,’ he went on, pointing through the window at the people moving like black flies at the base of the Wheel. ‘Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving—forever?
If I said you can have twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stops, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money—without hesitation?
Or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax.’ He gave his boyish conspiratorial smile. ‘It’s the only way to save nowadays.’
The Direct Marketing Analogy
Suddenly, all the ills of direct marketing became crystal clear in my brain. I understood how many of America’s greatest, most respected companies—that should damn well know better—could be guilty of lost and stolen data and licensing highly sensitive, personal information to known scammers and criminals.
Here, too, is the reason for wild over-mailing, declining responses, list managers and brokers drowning in a sea of co-operative databases while others are on a merger spree.
Quite simply, we have lost sight of the concept that direct marketing is a warm, customer-centric business where success is measured by emotional connections and the ability to persuade one person at a time.
Direct marketing legend Stan Rapp calls it “intimate advertising.”
The hotshot MBAs and PhDs that have taken over direct marketing are as in love with statistics as actuaries are in love with death. They do not think about each blip of data representing a sacred trust—a live breathing person—you, me, our spouses and children, our brothers and sisters in Iraq, our beloved aunt dealing with dementia.