Magazine article Marketing

Welcome to the Masterclass

Magazine article Marketing

Welcome to the Masterclass

Article excerpt

Robin Cobb previews the DM Fair conference which promises to offer an essential guide to the latest theories and techniques affecting the direct marketing industry

The changing world of direct marketing is due to be mapped afresh next week. The conference held in conjunction with the London International Direct Marketing Fair at Wembley promises to update the professionals and induct novices in techniques and trends.

Delegates will include a wide cross-section of middle-to-senior management who want to learn about the subject and how to apply it in their companies, says Michael York Palmer, managing director of Response Marketing, one of the conference organisers.

Probably the busiest speaker will be marketing guru John Frazer-Robinson. As well as presenting two one-man master-classes, he is giving 'Breakfast with JFR' meetings every morning, complete with Danish pastry and coffee for those who make the 9 am schedule.

Frazer-Robinson's first masterclass is 'Thrive or Survive'. "This is a strategy session, getting people to understand the true potential of working their customer base," he explains.

"Most companies are running the bath with the plug out. The taps are full on, but the damn thing isn't filling up," he claims. "CEOs have been staring at it for decades without being able to work out what's wrong."

What's going down the drain, despite the preoccupation with loyalty campaigns, is "the huge potential that lies within their existing customer base. Most loyalty campaigns end up being bribes of one sort another," explains Frazer-Robinson.

"Bribes might win short-term fidelity, but they don't build loyalty. What I am trying to do is to get companies to uncover the marketing miracles that lie around them unseen."

During his presentation, he will reveal 'The Ten Irrefutable Laws of Profitable Sales and Marketing'. Such as? "I haven't written them yet," he confesses. But he undertakes to have been up the mountain and returned with the tablets by the time of the conference.

Frazer-Robinson's other masterclass is 'The Secrets of Effective Direct Mail'. This is aimed at "people who are new into a large company at marketing manager or a similar level, or directors of smaller companies who want to make the most of direct mail".

And there will be a third masterclass by the peripatetic Belgian Erik Van Vooren, who spends 70% of his time travelling the world, lecturing in four languages on direct marketing. In 'Customer Bonding', he will seek to describe three levels of loyalty programmes.

"The basis is the TLC ('tender loving care') programme, which recognises the client as an individual and provides good human contact. On that, you can build the learning relationship. This is for bigger companies in more complex markets where, through interactions with customers, questionnaires and deduction, you try to know your customers better, try to anticipate their needs and problems, and offer solutions." A database is not essential for 'TLC', but becomes necessary for the learning relationship.

As Van Vooren observes: "The driver for the customer to be loyal is not only recognition, but convenience and security ... that he is aware your company knows him, serves him in the way he wants to be served and provides the security that he can rely on what you will offer him".

The third layer of loyalty, what Van Vooren describes as "the cream on the tart" (doubtless a Belgian expression), is the reward programme. Unfortunately, most programmes start and finish with this.

"You can not save a marriage by telling a partner if you stay home this evening I will give you ten points and if you are here for breakfast I will double them," he observes. "If you forget your partner's birthday, or are never there when you are needed, the reward programme will never save it."

Loyalty is a recurring topic. Michael York Palmer will preside over a day on 'How to Create Customer Loyalty'. …

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