Commentary

Direct Marketers Are Eating Your Lunch

Something interesting happened during this recession. Something which hasn’t been properly understood. The way cable networks and broadcasters see it, direct marketers are taking a lot more of their time. On some weekend mornings, it seems the whole 500-channel universe is one big Ronco ad.

Direct marketers don’t just buy ad space, they buy whole blocks, and they don’t ask you what you charge, they tell you what (and how) they will pay. This despite the fact they have their own channels. In many markets during this recession the direct marketers have made further inroads into broadcasting itself. Morning blocks, late-night blocks, even weekend afternoons on many small network stations are filled with the same ads seen on cable, paid for the same way.

Call them bottom feeders if you want, but they’re doing something regular advertisers aren’t doing. They’re making money. How do they do it? And what can they teach us?

Well, first they understand that all media is really just a net for catching names. Call now, they implore, visit this URL. Sign here, pay later. But first sign here. They’re not just going for sales, they’re going for prospects, because if someone buys one product they’re going to buy more.

What they’re doing, in fact, is building databases. Each entry is an asset they can buy, sell, and trade. Direct marketers, in other words, understand the value of a suspect, a prospect, and a buyer. They know how to massage a database until it squeals. They know how to pitch in every medium. The question is, why don’t you?

Why do you only know your audience in terms of gross numbers? Why don’t you know who they are? They’re your customers, after all. Everyone else knows who their customers are these days. Publishers know it. As I’ve said, the most successful marketers know it. But you don’t.

That needs to change. So long as your customers know more about your product, and how to profit from it, than you do, then you’re only making money for them, and not for yourself. That’s how direct marketers are eating your lunch.

Next story loading loading..