Direct marketers should not lose sight of what’s important in the rush to the new

In marketing services journalism as much as among marketers themselves, there is a tendency to focus on the new media channels at the expense of the traditional.  

Russell Parsons

Augmented reality, QR codes, social media, mobile et al all dominate attention and are afforded a disproportionate to use amount of time in terms of copy and discussion.

The reasons are obvious – there newness commands more time and it also leads to more calls from up high to help them get to the bottom of all these new toys.

Among some in the direct marketing community particularly there is often over compensation. As a result of years of pejorative references and negative stories to “old fashioned” and “traditional” channels such as direct mail, telemarketing and door to door there has been a clamber to justify its place by co-opting any and every media as DM.

This is fine and entirely appropriate for any channel to move with and reflect the times. What should not happen is for other means of communication to be sidelined prematurely when they are entirely the right way to get a brand’s message over through a fear of being seen as old hat.

Some interesting stats were reported by Marketing Week earlier this month that point to such thinking being prevalent.

According to a report by fast.MAP, in partnership with the Institute of Promotional Marketing (IPM) and the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM), marketers are guilty of over estimating use and usefulness of new media.

For example, half as many consumers favour customer care contact via email than marketers believe actually do, while marketers underestimate the proportion of consumers who want to use the phone by seven percentage points.

Elsewhere, the report found landline phone shared top spot with email as consumers’ preferred routes when contacting a customer service team. Additionally, when shoppers need help or advice they prefer face-to-face contact than using a website or interacting on social media.

The numbers do not mirror my point exactly but they do underline the crux of the argument. For many people and in many circumstances traditional is still the best. It might not win any innovation awards but sometimes a piece of mail is best, sometimes a phone call (read a previous missive on the benefits of cold calling here) is best and sometimes a knock on the door can work.     


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