Direct Marketing Is Shit An Embarrassment

Eric Weaver, a Seattle-based marketer who believes that the Reign of Fluff is over, delivered his own State of the Union address today. One side is standing and loudly applauding his commentary, while the other is none too pleased.
Here are some snippets:

I’m sitting in on an American Marketing Association webcast/conference call right now called “B-to-C Customer Acquisition: Ten Steps to Success”. And I’m stunned by the insanity of the current “best practices” of the direct marketing business.
The b-school buzzwords come fast and furious. Precampaign analytics. Customer acquisition models. Proprietary optimization. “How much data is the right amount to collect during the acquisition process?” the speaker asks. “How do you insure your email gets through the spam filters the customer has deployed?”
And I want to unmute the speakerphone and scream ARE YOU F***ING INSANE?!? DO YOU ACTUALLY HEAR WHAT YOU’RE SAYING?!?
All this effort, all this angst, all this handwringing over the power the customer has to avoid shoehorning your boring, irrelevant crap into their busy day. All these formulaic, me-too methods to reach them despite their desire to NOT hear from you. All these eager numbers-oriented marketers attending this webcast because they want to get your attention when you don’t want to give it.
The speaker goes on: “if you undermine trust, relationships cannot grow or survive”. But, umm, you ARE undermining trust…you ARE trying to get past barriers that consumers have put up.
This kind of interruption-, intrusion-based marketing, even under the guise of being opt-in and permission-based, is an aging model that needs to be put out of our collective misery.

Direct, despite this most timely and eloquent tirade, is not going away, just like TV advertising is not going away. Yet, firms with a service or product to sell would do well to consider other means to their ends. The best solution is clearly to produce a better product or service. When people truly want said product or service they will come to it unprovoked (or provoked in a way that is acceptable to them). Then, a real relationship can commence.
[via Adrants]

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.