Marketers from all channels and industries have been engaged in earnest navel gazing. In a very unscientific poll of Marketing Week Twitter followers last week, a consensus emerged that changes had to be made to regain the trust of a sceptical public.
A panoply of modifications were offered but the need to distance marketing from sales, and, related, the need to rid marketing of the image that it is populated by dishonest johns with a constant eye on relieving a consumer of their cash.
Direct marketers can help reverse this pejorative perception of marketing by looking at the marketing materials that are produced in their name.
DM, whether it is in physical or electronic, has been and still is by its very nature a direct channel that is transparent in its pursuit of sales.
This is fine to a degree. A call to action is required in DM, a return on investment is expected by those financing campaigns and sold as a virtue by practitioners.
What DM also needs to be, and so seldom is, is personalised by use of the (perfectly legitimately gathered) data on prospective customers. It should be creative and design-led. It should, in short, look like even a modicum of thought has been put into it.
DM is the closest of the marketing disciplines to direct sales. Direct marketers do not, however, need to conform to the worst excesses of their counterparts in sales.
Maybe its time to rebrand direct marketing? As one respondent on Twitter didn’t quite suggest this week, perhaps the name customer-centric [direct] communications is an answer. Anyone?