People Marketing Is …
… the backbone of all Direct Marketing. These days, one might think that social media had become the primary means for direct marketing with people sharing tweets, posts, and links of companies on Facebook, Twitter, and the rest. But as any social media marketer knows, social connections can be fleeting, frivolous, and challenging to convert to active B2C sales relationships.
It’s easy to confuse the media with the marketplace. Sure, it’s all online today, on Facebook or Amazon or just a click away. We do have a universal marketplace on the Internet, and it seems that the degrees of separation are decreasing as we network online more and more. Yet, we still have real people as marketers and customers in a real-world marketplace, beyond all the digital interactions that media provides. How does this affect direct marketing?
A century ago traveling salespeople went from town to town and door to door peddling goods out of a suitcase. That’s quite direct when someone knocks on your door. Today, you probably wouldn’t answer a door knock for such solicitations, unless it was a neighbor kid hawking cookies or candy bars for scouts or sports. Still, do you favor a certain coffee shop or store where the staff treat you well? Convenience and pricing are strong factors in today’s marketplace and economy, but sometimes we want a nicer experience than that of the self checkout line at a big box store.
Direct Marketing can be defined as any systematic method of selling products with direct communications and transactions between companies and customers. It’s tried and true from direct (junk) mail to telemarketing to direct response advertising on late-night television. Long before the web and social media, direct marketing had leveraged metrics and ROI with predictive results. Direct mail response rates average 3.4% and telemarketing response rates range from 8% to nearly 13%, although the costs are higher. (The Average Success Rate of Direct Marketing)
An issue with direct marketing (or any marketing today) is that the media and technology that deliver results can become an end-all, trumping the roles of both seller and buyer at the outer ends of the process. And, when the traditional methods don’t deliver as well over time, as media, technology, and user behaviors continue to evolve, how can we adapt better engagement strategies?
We might try getting back to the notion of People Marketing. I don’t mean knocking on doors in the real world—but I do mean that when we knock on digital doors, we act as real people. For example, sometimes when I engage with someone as mutual followers on Twitter, I quickly receive an automated Direct Message saying:
“Thanks for following. I will surprise you with interesting tweets!”
Really? It’s interesting that you have robotic software that churns out a canned tweet on your behalf? You knock on a door that is normally reserved for friends and associates to exchange text messages in real time, but you as a person aren’t involved?
In your B2C communications, don’t let 1-to-1 become a 0-to-1 formula. Remember that as marketers and customers, we’re real people who can have real digital interactions.
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