Some years ago, I befriended a business leader while serving as publisher of a couple of newspapers in Texas.
He was an older gentleman who owned a successful retail chain that actually expanded during the height of the recession.
About 18 months ago, we were chatting on the phone, and he had a tremendous, curse-laden complaint about social media professionals.
Part of it was that nobody in that field wears a suit, and he prematurely ended a couple of presentations when the social media expert showed up to pitch him for business in blue jeans
His biggest concern was that people weren’t listening to him.
He told me he could prove about 40 percent of his business came to him via print advertising, and another 40 percent came via television advertising. He said he gave the social media firms this research in their information packets.
Then he dropped the two-part question: “Why would they tell me to drop all print? And, when I ask them if I do that, are they going to pick up the $4.5 million in sales we’d lose, why do they look at me like I’m nuts?”
There’s nothing wrong with telemarketing
Yes, I said it. But with a caveat.
Telemarketing is often viewed as the lowest rung of the marketing ladder, but it does actually have its uses. In the newspaper world, it is a very powerful tool in terms of retention rates. There are other industries for whom telemarketing yields strong results.
They wouldn’t keep investing in it if it didn’t work. Telemarketing is a victim of a media prejudice.
Think about it.
On Facebook, I was taken to task after I wrote a blog post
that talked about how a street hawker got our attention while vacationing in New York. The problem the critic couldn’t address was the simple fact that the street hawker was effective.
So, too, is telemarketing—in certain scenarios, and for certain products and services.
The right tool for the job
Here’s my approach to everything from social media to pay-per-click to print advertising, and anything in between. They are merely tools. For each job, there is a right tool, an OK tool, and the wrong tool.
A while back, I changed the faucet in our kitchen sink. It wasn’t terribly difficult, but there were a few challenges, not the least of which was reaching the bolt with my regular wrenches.
Sometime later at Home Depot, I saw what they call a basin wrench. I said a few things not appropriate for publication and thought, “That sure would have been useful.”
That’s the thing. I changed the faucet with tools I had around the house. It worked fine, but were they the best tools for the job? Of course not.
Direct mail may work great, but is it better, more efficient, or more cost-effective than an email campaign—or vice versa? These questions cannot be answered without more data.
What we do know is that direct mail and email marketing both work. What we have to do is determine which is the better tool
in a given situation.
Questions in search of answers
You have to think about the goal of your marketing efforts.
• Is it trying to build relationships?
• Is it driving sales?
• Reconnecting with former customers?
As I work on new business development, I’m struck by how many companies have no goals (and I’m not just talking marketing goals). You have to know what you are building before you can think about what tools you need.
Who is your audience? Where do they live and work? Do they go to church? Do they have little children, grown children, any
children? What’s their income and education level?
You must paint an accurate picture of who your audience is.
Now look at the tools. Are you driving direct sales to retirees? If so, print may be the way to go.
Building relationships? Social media.
Re-establishing relationships with former customers? Consider email.
The point is that each audience and each goal have a set of tools that work best in each scenario. That’s what you want to sniff out, and you do that by asking a lot of questions.
Integrating the (right) marketing tools
I came to work for Gini Dietrich
for a couple of reasons. One of the things that influenced my decision was that I’ve never heard her say, “This is the only way to do this.”
She talks a lot about integrated approaches
, and ultimately that is probably what you need. Your paid, earned, shared, and owned media efforts must work together to maximize your reach.
That means some social media, some blogging, some traditional media relations, and some paid advertising. However, there are multiple tools within each of these categories. Some are right and some are wrong—for you.
You can drive a nail into a board with a pipe wrench, but you really should use a hammer.
Direct mail, street hawkers, door-to-door sales, social media, email, and pay-per-click are all tools that should be used—if they are right for the job.
The problem is there are a lot of people out there who hate street hawkers. They think telemarketing is a waste of money and that print is dead. They think social media can’t be used for B2B and that email marketing is just spammy.
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Don’t be one of those. Keep an open mind, and find the right tool for the job. Don’t wind up trying to drive nails with pipe wrenches.
Clay Morgan is the vice president of operations for Arment Dietrich. Follow him on Twitter @clay_morgan. A version of this story originally appeared on Spin Sucks.