On the flyleaf of The Great Marketing Turnaround Doctor Samuel Johnson is quoted from 1759, as saying, “The trade of advertising is now so near perfection that it is not easy to propose any improvement.”
Now, I don’t know really what advertising was like in 1759, but I do think it has probably been perfected somewhat in the 236 intervening years and, further, I do honestly believe–Sam–you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!
But, as Canadian direct marketers we face more issues, stiffer challenges and tougher competition than ever before and from all directions of the globe. Are we up to it? Are we going to be able to handle it?
A few years ago, I chose three words which, for me, seemed to characterize the future of, not only advertising, but marketing and, most particularly, its blood relation direct marketing.
Those words are “intelligence”, “intimacy” and “integrity”.
As marketers–intelligence –about our markets, our competitors, our customers, –is now, more than ever, our life blood. But, the biggest risk is death by overdose of data.
Intelligence makes it possible to find true prospects and turn them into loyal customers without creating waste; to drive advertising by end user behaviour and attitudes instead of the latest trend in creative brainstorms; to benchmark our companies against our competitors and see how we measure up.
But, how are we going to sift through the almost overwhelming amount and speed and changeable load of stuff that comes at us every day and get at only the sparkling gems?
It’s simple—If you can’t act on it, use it in dollars and cents decisions or use it to make some positive things happen…it’s not intelligent information, it’s clutter. And, you’ll drive yourself crazy if you try to treat it all otherwise.
The word, intimacy, has several connotations, one of which can remain where it belongs in the bedrooms of the nation.
In another, more public, sense intimacy implies friendship–familiar personal friendship. The competitive scramble is on to forge the bonds of customer relationship like never before. It’s a concept that goes far beyond the buzz words of quality management and customer service.
The technology is here and now in every form imaginable ready to make possible the “high touch” of total emphasis on the customer.
It’s up to us to put it to work with the objective being to get to know our customers and potential customers–intimately, individually–and, to truly communicate with them in the same way–as human beings!
My third word is integrity. It’s become, perhaps, a little old-fashioned with it’s implications of ethics and high standards. But, look around, at companies who are really applying the golden rule to their customer service, continuing to take the proactive High road on environmental issues and sharing their wealth with the underprivileged. Many of them are succeeding, even in these hard times.
Another connotation of integrity is that of totality or unity. Integration only coordinates. Integrity as a unified approach to strategic planning is comprehensive. It’s deep, not wide. It’s authentic and considered, not superficial. Integrity has as its driver the true understanding of customer wants and needs. It builds personal relationships in an increasingly fragmented world.
Need proof? Just go for a “surf on the net” as “they” say. It’s all happening–intelligence in the meeting of minds, instantly, intimacy (in all its connotations) and the integrity of many channels of sale, industry sectors and individuals from every walk of life all sharing, buying, chatting, selling and having, we hope, a wonderful time. Hey, Doctor Johnson–are you spinning in your grave, yet?
Charles de Gruchy remembers how it was