Craig Wood

Over the last few years, Craig Wood, like many of you, has noticed a disturbing current in the direct marketing world: Response is down, costs are up and the result is a decrease in the productivity of marketing efforts as a whole. Wood, who recently left his position as group president and head of the database division at Yankelovich to become founder and CEO of Chapel Hill, N.C.-based consultancy The Clarity Group, attributes much of this troubling trend to a rise in consumer resistance. But he also sees another emerging force, one with the ability to reverse some of this resistance: values-based marketing. Values-based marketing

"Some brand disappointments are treated as brand betrayal," says Craig Wood, group president, Yankelovich. Any changes could lead customers to think you've forgotten about them, or worse, don't care about their preferences. "Be cautious about brand changes," he warns.

Today, there's a distinct "claustrophobia of abundance," says Craig Wood, group president, Yankelovich. To overcome this fear, keep your offers relevant and ensure they strike an emotional chord. "Emotional resonance is very important today," he says. "People are getting overwhelmed [with marketing messages] ... But there's a huge dichotomy because people are saying they want more choices. The answer," he surmises, "is less choices, but the right choices. Precision is more critical today than it's ever been in the past."

Time is a precious commodity in this day and age. According to Craig Wood, group president, Yankelovich, "Time is too precious to just give away." He says in order to get prospects to spend their time on your messages, you need to "get to the 'why' through attitudinal data." Use the data to "be as precise and relevant as possible." No matter your current marketing tactics, there's always room for improvement. "Make it relevant to me and only me," he advises. Only in this way will prospects give you the time out of their day.

In order to reach the illusive "them," your customers, you have to: - cede control; - break down the walls [of communication]; - invite people in; - dial down the hype; - simplify the process; - offer flexibility; and - avid stereotypes. Only then, says Craig Wood, group president, Yankelovich, can you truly reach out and touch someone.

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