Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Customer Preference a Hot Topic for 2008


Happy 2008!

Now that the holidays are officially behind us and we're all raring to dive headlong into a fresh New Year, it's time to take a look at what will be important to us as we begin to implement our direct marketing strategies.

One hot topic that has gained a lot of attention in the past few weeks is around customer preference. We really believe that if you communicate with your customers in the ways in which they want to be communicated, you are going to see big returns -- in sales, in ROI, and in customer satisfaction. Customer preference is more important than ever because of the multitude of channels available for us to utilize when spreading our marketing messages. On the one hand, we can increase the times that our message is viewed or heard. On the other hand, you don't want to annoy potential customers by hitting them too many times with your messages -- and particularly not with the marketing channel that they least prefer. The good news is that there are many different ways to easily capture your customer's communications preferences -- and smart companies have made understanding this a top priority.

Recently, the DMA has become involved in this, particularly around direct mail in the catalog industry. In a recent DM News article, author Chantal Tode discusses how the DMA "has strengthened its arsenal against proposed do-not-mail legislation by beefing up its Mailing Preference Ser­vice (MPS), offering consumers more choice in how and when they receive direct mail." While this move is definitely due to the afore-mentioned pending legislation (the article reports that the number of states with proposed do-not-mail registries grew from 3 to 15 in 2007, as is expected to increase to 25 this year), it's a move whose time has come. The DMA is trying to demonstrate to legislators that we can self-regulate as an industry. In other words, we don't need for politicians to increase the amount of marketing legislation that clogs up our political system and makes it a lot harder to effectively use direct marketing.

And, as discussed above, if a consumer doesn't want to be communicated with via direct mail -- I'd honestly rather know that. I'd rather spend my time and effort on those who want to hear from me through this channel.

We'll definitely keep our eyes on how this entire issue unfolds. Since we are now officially in an election year (I know -- it seems like we've already been in an election year), I'll bet that this issue will get lots of airtime as we hear from the various candidates from all parties.

Meanwhile, find out about your customer preferences. It may take a little work, but we firmly believe that it will pay off in huge dividends -- setting you up for a great 2008!

23 comments:

ERAnderson said...

Nancy -
I'm sure we're all reeling after the holiday season catalog onslaught. And, every year it gets worse. Why? Well, catalogs are profitable. My perspective, however, is that that marketers have to start taking a more socially conscious point of view (i.e., Green). And, if they don't (IMO - SOON!), that's what will really get the legislation wheels (which have been somewhat slow so far) turning faster.

I've proposed that retailers should offer a catalog opt-in on their ecommerce sites (just like they do for email) rather than taking the blanket approach of adding every online buyer to their catalog file. For more of my rants on this topic see my post: http://nxteramarketing.wordpress.com/2007/10/24/catalogers-green-is-in/

Thanks for furthering the discussion.

Nancy Arter said...

Great comments! I agree that your proposal should be highly considered. Again, let's see what the consumers prefer prior to spending our marketing budgets on sending them something.

Your efforts should be applauded. We'll definitely look at your rants . . . and encourage our readers to do so as well.

Thank you!

shell said...

Great points. I totally agree that you need to communicate with the customer. I have recently come across an interview your readers might find interesting. It talks a lot about how communicating with the customer (and the positive service you provide) is what is going to set companies apart in the current market we are facing. Pretty interesting.

Nancy Arter said...

Hi Shell,
I agree -- very interesting interview. As the economy continues to struggle, customer service will definitely be the key point that separates those who survive from those who don't.

Thanks for your comment!

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