If I were king instead of a Knight

If I had the power, there are a number of things I'd do to make the world a better place and, although I'm not a contestant for the Miss America pageant, I thought I'd share a few of them with you today.

If I had the power, there are a number of things I’d do to make the world a better place and, although I’m not a contestant for the Miss America pageant, I thought I’d share a few of them with you today.

BANNED WORDS: In my ideal kingdom, no clients or agency AEs would be allowed to use the word ‘but,’ as in ‘It’s great but…’ Rather, they’d be compelled to only utter bon mots such as, ‘I love it just like it is!’ Or ‘I wouldn’t touch a word!’

BANNED QUESTION: No charity phoning to raise funds would be allowed to start the conversation with ‘(Your name)? How are you tonight?’ Anyone who broke this code of conduct would automatically hear a recorded announcement: ‘In truth, I was better before I was interrupted. By the way, I already gave at the office.’

When you’re disturbed at work the announcement would state that you’ve given at home and that you’ll be issuing an invoice to the caller for the valuable work time they’ve just made you waste.

P.S.: Why is it that not-for-profits always inquire about your state of well-being, but for-profit telemarketers rarely do?

ONE-SPAM LIMIT: Spammers would be entitled to send only one unsolicited e-mail to any individual in any given year. Failure to comply would result in their diet being restricted, for the next 12 months, to nothing but Hormel’s product of the same name.

OPT-IN DM LISTS: Not only would you be able to rent lists of opt-in e-mail subscribers, you’d have access to innumerable lists featuring the names and home or business addresses of people who have said, yes, I’d love to receive direct mail about category X, Y and Z. As a result, the term ‘junk mail’ would be uttered as seldom as ‘zounds’ and ‘forsooth.’

THE CHEQUE IS IN THE FAX: Companies sending unsolicited faxes would be required to reimburse you for the paper they’ve made you waste, for the wear and tear they’ve put on your fax machine, and for the aggravation you experienced because they tied up your machine when you were trying to fax someone, or someone important was trying to fax you.

FREE DINNER OR WHATEVER: A telemarketer who takes you away from the dinner table to answer their call would be compelled to come to your house the next day and make supper for you. Should they call when you’ve just about got the kids to sleep, they’d have to take on the beddy-bye job the next night. And should they call a parent right in the middle of changing a diaper…

PRESS ‘*#@!*’ TO DISCONNECT YOUR RELATIONSHIP: If a company is having problems accepting incoming calls, it would have to announce that fact right off the bat. It would be illegal to make you ‘Press 1 for service in English, press 2 for service in French,’ then tell you to ‘Enter your account number using the dial pad, for the letter Q or Z press star,’ followed by ‘Enter your date of birth by month, day and year. For example, if you were born on July 12, 1970 enter 7, 12, 70 followed by the pound sign’ – only to then present you with an announcement stating, ‘We’re sorry. Due to technical difficulties….’

GREAT CRM FOR ALL, ALL FOR GREAT CRM: All companies in my Nirvana-like realm would have to behave like Peppers and Rogers Group (see last month’s ‘Stupid Direct Marketing Tricks’ column); Panasonic (who will fix your phone at no charge after the warranty’s expired and give you a free adapter even though the old one blew because you didn’t have the sense to employ a surge protector); and the people who publish inside direct mail. (If you finally get around to telling IDM that you haven’t received any issues since moving to new offices, they’ll rush you all missed issues by Fed Ex even though you admitted blame and offered to pay for postage yourself. Plus, if a few back issues are out of stock because you waited so long to alert them about the problem, they’ll make up for it by sending you future issues at no charge).

As a professional, I recognize that advertising and direct marketing provide society with a great many benefits (information, education, reduced prices on products and services), but as a consumer I find certain aspects of it a royal pain. However, I’m going to change all that…as soon as I’m promoted to King.

When not devising ways to save the world from itself, Bob Knight of Knight &Associates creates direct, e, and integrated marketing campaigns for a variety of agencies and advertisers. To find out more, get in touch with his highness at b_knight@telus.net.