Direct marketing (or any marketing effort) suffers from these barriers in client companies. Most of them fall within the realm of common human weaknesses. They may hurt the whole business enterprise and not just the direct marketing program.
1. Worshiping at the idol of the status quo
Clients often fixate on the status quo despite evidence that shows the need for a new direction.
This management flaw remains the biggest response killer for almost all marketing programs. But the idea that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" serves to restrain growth.
Successful direct marketing programs need a lot of work to remain successful. No matter how successful, direct response rates will drop over time. Direct marketers understand that their job entails ongoing program replacement.
This means frequent testing designed to beat existing controls.
Managing effective direct marketing programs over the long term requires controlled risk taking.
2. Working in the haze of routine
Human nature has a way of lulling managers into a dangerous comfort zone.
Here's what I hear from clients who face clear evidence that they need to upgrade their processes.
- "We've worked with this vendor for over twenty years. We're not going to consider other vendors."
- "Our internal database procedures cost us new sales and opportunities. But we don't want to outsource the work. That move makes us uncomfortable."
- "Taking production outside will cost much less and deliver superior print quality. Outsourcing the work would help our customer image. But we don't want to reallocate internal jobs."
- "We don't think our prospects want to read a letter. All we've ever done is send postcards because they are less expensive than other formats. So we don't want to test other options."
3. Not challenging the company's direct marketing efforts
Clients should never assume that their vendors or staff observe best direct mail practices. Yet many clients rarely challenge the marketing work so long as it is profitable.
Perform these evaluations at least once every one or two years.
- Audit the database and direct mail deliverability levels.
- Audit all direct mail production to assure quality and competitive pricing.
- Check internal procedures for accurate database input processes.
- Review inbound telephone scripts, inquiry response procedures and accurate response tracking.
These three response killers do not go away. These are not tactical issues but strategic management issues. If left alone, they will kill long term marketing success.
Experienced consultant may attempt to correct these issues. But it is a waste of talent and energy without CEO support.
Have you found ways to overcome these barriers in your company? If so, how did you do it?