Speaking Directly

Notes from the world of DMThe following column, which appears each issue, looks at new and emerging trends in direct marketing. Alternating columnists are Barbara Canning Brown, a leading figure in the Canadian direct marketing industry, and David Foley, a specialist...

Notes from the world of DM

The following column, which appears each issue, looks at new and emerging trends in direct marketing. Alternating columnists are Barbara Canning Brown, a leading figure in the Canadian direct marketing industry, and David Foley, a specialist in database marketing programs.

Strategy also invites other news items or column submissions for this section. Enquiries should be directed to Mark Smyka, editor, (416) 408-2300.

Perhaps it is the convergence of leaner, flatter organizations and tighter advertising and promotional budgets that is driving the growing interest in direct marketing by ‘traditional’ marketers of goods and services.

John Gustavson, president of the Canadian Direct Marketing Association, agrees that the number and scope of organizations that participate in cdma activities is growing.

‘Attendance at the spring 1993 conference was a record 1,100 individuals, and the [cdma's] Introduction to Direct Marketing seminar has had to turn registrants away on its last two dates,’ Gustavson says.

Since direct marketing is measurable, its appeal is crystal clear. Furthermore, the basics seem so simple – obtain a list, create an offer, mail it and wait for the orders to pour in – that some people (and I am sure you are not one) let their newly found enthusiasm for the medium obscure objective, rational thinking.

Let me share this real example with you.

This particular organization views direct marketing, I believe, as some kind of ‘band-aid’ tactic to prop up demand for its product (a 10,000-piece mailing here, another 7,000 there, etc.), and not as an integral part of its overall marketing communications strategy.

It innocently views the ‘package’ as an envelope containing various printed pieces, and focusses on the all-important mailing date, rather than the decisions that should precede it.

It confidently anticipates a 2% response, since that figure can be cited from a book on direct marketing that someone once read. Once, when I suggested that, for several valid reasons, it either re-think or cancel a particular mailing, it was mildly insulted.

Worst of all, the people in this organization want to harness the power of direct marketing for all the right reasons.

Others in its industry use direct marketing quite successfully, and there is no reason why this organization cannot use the medium equally as well.

However, it does not need to become more familiar about direct marketing in order to use its limited resources wisely.

Making Money in the ’90s:

This is the theme of the CDMA Convention and Trade Show, to be held April 19-21 in Montreal.

This year’s program looks terrific, and includes keynote presentations by James A. Taylor, managing partner and chief executive officer of Yankelovich Partners, an international marketing research and public opinion survey firm, and Don E. Schultz, professor of integrated marketing communications at the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

Additional speakers include Andre Chagnon (Le Group Videotron), Jay A. Conger (McGill University), Hollis Harris (Air Canada), Pierre Peladeau (Quebecor) and Nuala Beck (economist and futurist.)

Of course, it costs money to make money: $1,075 for non-cdma members; $850 for members.

For more information, contact Brenda Stewart at the cdma at (416) 391-2362, ext. 224.

Customer non-acquisition:

Recently, I sent faxes to 11 Toronto area new car dealers, inviting them to quote on the acquisition of a new 1994 car.

Each fax was personalized, printed on second page company letterhead, and quite specific as to the model, options and anticipated delivery date (all of which were common.)

Today, five days later, not one of the 11 have bothered to fax back a quotation. One dealership did send a note indicating that since it was not my closest dealer, it was its policy not to provide a quote by fax. Rather, the note continued, my original fax would be sent to the dealership closest to me. (This dealership now has two requests and has responded to neither.)

I guess there are just no 1994 Honda Accord EX sedans available, so the rationale for that bmw is just getting stronger and stronger.

David Foley is a marketing consultant and an instructor in database marketing at York University in Toronto. He may be reached at (905) 940-8784; fax (905) 940-4785.