Friday, September 28, 2007

Talking about Telemarketing Today

I tend to be an optimist--a believer in the goodness of humanity. I like to think that my world of direct response marketing is filled with only completely honest, innovative people who enjoy the business of targeting the right offer to the right person, and, in doing so ultimately benefit with good sales and a nice profit margin.

Of course, the world at large, the general public, typically thinks the exact opposite. We're junk mailers, awful people who fill our in-boxes with SPAM and dishonest pests who call us just when we're picking up our forks to eat dinner. Well, unfortunately, sometimes the general public is right...

See this article about what's being called the "largest telemarketing scam in a quarter century."

It's about a company called Strategia Marketing, who the FTC accuses of cheating "thousands of Americans out of tens, and perhaps hundreds, of millions of dollars."

"The FTC maintains Strategia Marketing operated for several years under at least 15 different business names. Investigators say telemarketers called consumers to offer ‘free’ trial memberships in discount buyer and travel clubs and later charged consumers for a series of programs without their knowledge."

Hmmm. I guess this is a tad worse than simply annoying people when they're trying to enjoy a nice dinner.

And, then there's been lots of talk lately about how the Do Not Call is just about to hit the 5-year mark. Remember, after 5 years from your original registration, you'll have to re-register your phone number to ensure that you won't receive telemarketing calls. This is making lots of people hopping mad.

And, legislators tend to agree. There are a couple of bills recently introduced that will make DNC registration permanent. See this article for good detail.

Well, I think it goes back to this--what is good for the consumer? And, as much as I hate the fact that when my legitimate clients want to implement a telemarketing campaign, there are so few non-DNC phone numbers available, I have to agree with the proposed legislation. If someone added their phone number to the DNC and they haven't moved, or changed their phone number, why make them re-register? There's nothing that says that now, all of a sudden, they want to be telemarketing calls. Of course they don't.

Finally, when we read about the illegal scams like those reported today, telemarketing continues to get a bad rep. Which, of course, will result in more people adding their phone number to the Do Not Call Registry.

What say you--is telemarketing dead? Or, is it a viable direct marketing channel?


bwilsonbp said...

I agree that the large number of consumers who have opted-out via the DNC have created challenges for legitimate telemarketing campaigns. Having been in the telemarketing field for over 20 years, I share your pain. However, there's a bigger technological twist that's changing telephone marketing and sales--and that's mobile technology. Statistics indicate that consumers are abandoning their landlines in tremendous numbers. Consider these facts:

*8.4 percent of U.S. households--24 million Americans--have dropped their land line telephone service and only use wireless service, a seven fold increase since 2004, mainly among single-person households.

*219 million U.S. wireless subscribers or 72% of all households own mobile phones.

*The trend is accelerating. In 2006, wireless increased 13 percent (25 million people). That, says ACCP quoting CTIA, the wireless association, is 68,000 new wireless phone users every day.

*Landlines pale by comparison, holding at 178 million in 2001. As of 2004, wireless lines exceeded landlines.

Mobile technology is only one of many reasons why telemarketing strategies need to adapt. The growth of new media and Web 2.0 (Facebook, MySpace, YouTube,LinkedIn, etc.)is another.

Taking a multi-channel approach to telemarketing is the answer you seek. Stand-a-lone outbound telemarketing phone calls have never produced synergy. Combining direct mail and email, as you know since you're in the business, produces better results. Combining new media and new strategies is one answer to your question. Telemarketing is not dead. It's changing.

My Mobile Telephone Marketing Google blog may interest you and your readers:

Suzanne Obermire said...

I agree with you that the landscape for telemarketing and, in fact, marketing in general is changing. Exciting times, for sure. Will definitely check out your blog and thank you for visiting ours :)

Ted Grigg said...

There are still some significant telemarketing opportunities out there, though much smaller than they used to be.

For some industries, such as newspaper publishers, large volume outbound acquisition calls remain the core medium. The quality of the business is low and the decreasing number of phones they are allowed to call continues to drop.

In the BtoB space, however, outbound calling still remains the core medium for some lead generation activities.

Telemarketing is the next best thing to a face to face visit. But the integration with the web and other media is what makes telemarketing work.

The great strength of telemarketing is its disruptive quality. But marketers must use that power with discretion or risk losing the ability to call anyone without a specific invitation.

So far, marketers can use consumer phone lists for fund raising purposes and companies can call their active customer lists. But even that may go by the wayside if these organizations abuse the privilege as some have in the past.

Alexander said...

I have my own company and hire telemarketers to help me. I find them very good.