Magazine article Marketing

Revolutionary, Direct, Action

Magazine article Marketing

Revolutionary, Direct, Action

Article excerpt

A deep transformation of the relationship between the consumer and the producer demands that marketers should act fast and with innovation, argues David Stubley

Not so long ago it was argued that putting telephone numbers on ads 'spoilt the look'. Recently, I ran this thought past a friend of mine working in a New York advertising agency whose simply reply was: "How quaint".

Marketing has changed enormously in the UK over the past two to three years, however, and with it has grown the importance of generating direct responses to communications.

Innovative campaigns for the likes of Tango, Daewoo, BT and Martini have made direct response eminently respectable to the marketing establishment. "Go on then", the luvvies cry, "stick a number on the end of the ad and be done with it".

But what we are witnessing goes way beyond marketing fashion, and reflects a radical shift in the relationship between consumers and producers.

This shift was clearly highlighted at last year's Marketing Society conference, where service and value were top of the agenda. The battle lines are now drawn - the consumer is king, substandard offerings will no longer be tolerated, and hollow claims can be spotted a mile off.

Growth in consumer confidence - both in using telephones as well as in decision making - is one reason why DRTV is growing so fast. The other is the determination of many companies to regain control over their distribution though building closer relationships with their customers.

This has given birth to a new breed of direct sellers across a wide range of sectors. Whether it's savings, insurance, holidays, computers, mobile phones or catalogues, there are few categories unaffected by the move to the direct approach.

The revolution is led by organisations like Virgin and Daewoo, fast on their feet and happy to challenge the accepted model of marketing and retailing.

The academics used to tell us that the three secrets of retailing were 'location, location, and location', but in the electronic age, this no longer holds true. Given databases and telephone lines, location can as easily be a business park as a prime high street site. Now it is all about 'technology, technology, technology', and 'people, people, people'.

How much longer will it be before the travel industry develops this opportunity, or Tesco (already trialling an on-line service) removes the misery of the weekly shopping trip. If it makes it easy for me and doesn't deliver raspberry yoghurts when I ask for vanilla, it will certainly get the Stubley family business.

The direct trend is, of course, very good news for the TV companies. Increasingly, it is not just a medium to use twice a year to coincide with key sales peaks, but the central plank in an ongoing direct marketing programme. Some 20 TVRs a week, across 40 weeks of the year, might be enough.

This thought is one that Marketing magazine seized on last year, declaring that, "increasingly, response is becoming the primary measure of success. It is simply not true that the two [branding and response] can be equated".

Traditional wisdom would support this assertion. After all, television builds strong brands, which remain the primary defence against commoditisation - this is especially true for the direct operators, which are able to 'cut out the middleman, but not the marketing'. …

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