Happy Friday and avagoodweegend…
Bayer puts some humour into cardio vascular remedies – click here to view video.
You may have heard me explain about the number of people who choose not to pay for anything via online payment systems. It’s still a large chunk of the population.
I’ve seen people’s replies to email campaigns aggressively complaining there are no offline buying options. And they are across all segments of the community – teachers, business owners, travellers, corporate employees and more, both young and old.
Even though your payment is secure, there are still many who refuse to use any online payment system. Yet curiously some will pay by fax without any clue as to who reads the fax at the recipient’s end. Very few fax machines provide security of the received fax so prying eyes cannot read the content, which may hold credit card details for example. But most people don’t consider that possibility.
Yet despite the demand of customers, most online retailers don’t clearly offer alternatives for customers to purchase offline. These are also usually the companies who refuse to give a street address or phone number in their ‘contact us’ section. The body language of so many sites displays complete contempt for customers who might want to talk with a human at the company.
Why should customers be restricted to email contact? What fool decided it was bad business to talk personally with the people who pay your salary, your customers? I’d suggest these decisions have been made by bureaucrats who’ve never sold anything in their life.
So it was with some admiration that I visited this site www.balsacentral.com sent to me by The Copy Mentor, John Hancock. In his spare time Hancock builds gliders and planes that fly by remote control.
This business understands customers.
Here’s some of the copy: At Balsacentral we understand that not all of our customers like to order online. Balsacentral offers many ways to place your order including by fax, phone and email. Find out more (button)
When you arrive at the order page here’s how they help you: At Balsacentral.com we work hard to make our online purchasing experience quick, easy and convenient; and to ensure total security of your details all of your payment details are handled via PayPal – The world’s most trusted payment service.
We do recognise that some of our customers may wish to order offline and we provide a number of ways they can do that.
If you are choosing not to shop online due to security concerns or lack of credit card, you may be interested in the Australia Post issued pre-paid load&go visa cards, which will enable you to shop online at Balsacentral.com (and any other website) without any security concerns.
The site then offers instructions on how to order by phone, fax or mail. And the phone ordering is even working on public holidays – probably because that’s when a lot of their customers are using their products.
My guess is they get far more business by showing customers how to order offline, while online, than if they forced their customers to only order by online payment systems.
It takes a long time for new technology to completely replace old technology – and that’s because humans are creatures of habit. And if there is a risk involved in changing a habit – such as credit card theft – the harder it is to change the habit.
It’s why so many digital marketers make so many mistakes. They assume that because they live in a digital world, so does the rest of the population. I’m not sure about you, but I’d rather have more sales generated from offline and online order forms, than less sales just from online payments.
After all, the money is worth the same amount. And I suspect if online retailers could receive cash without a record of the sale – like bricks and mortar stores do – they’d jump at the chance. It’s one of the reasons online retail margins are so tight. The online retailers didn’t allow for the cash economy, which underpins many traditional retail businesses.
But maybe that’s old-fashioned thinking – digitally speaking…
I’m cleaning out old files and came across some sample catalogues of a client of ours at O & M Direct.
In 1973 Peter Sheppard opend his first shoe store. He offered a unique range of brands from Europe and other parts. But his secret weapon was his mail-order business – his database. It was built mainly through his retail store(s).
In the 1980’s our agency wrote and designed his catalogue and mailings. The catalogue was called “Shop at Home” – he was way ahead of his time in the virtual shopping world. Not only did the catalogues offer deals on shoes, but also special offers from complementary third parties such as Sportscraft, David Cardigan, Gilchrist & Soames and others. Customers could shop from the comfort of their home, or visit a store.
He mailed two seasonal catalogues a year, usually at least 1 month before the retail season started. The reason was simple. The mail-order sales determined what shoes he should stock in his retail store. The brands and styles that sold well via mail, became the shoes that were featured in-store. This ensured good sales volume and minimal overstock of unpopular lines. It also meant he would have the right shoes on display as the new season started.
His mailings followed all the rules. They were packed with multiple pages to make them tactile and encourage involvement by the recipient – now known in these digi-days as customer engagement. The mailings included a catalogue, inserts with special offers, extra order forms, introduce-a-friend offers, even a free calendar with its own special offer printed on the cover in the Christmas mailing.
I looked at his site today – it still follows the classic rules of direct marketing, has a digital catalogue, shoe bling and a mail-order service amongst other things. Online retailing is just a remote ordering service that delivers the products by mail or courier. The Peter Sheppard site is simply an evolution of its original offline mail-order business.
The site even has a separate brand www.slippersdirect.com.au so you can have your comfy foot warmers delivered direct to your door.
If you work in retail your customer database is your most valuable asset. It took Amazon years to make money, but once it had a sizable customer database it became profitable – because it’s cheaper and easier to sell to someone you know (your customer) than someone you don’t know. Repeat business is now the lifeblood of Amazon.
Through testing, your database can reveal insights that can mean the difference between profit and loss. And that goes for physical retail stores with online businesses, as well as pure online businesses that only sell via websites and other digital channels like email and social media.
The problem for many retailers is they don’t have a database of their customers – it’s stuck in the POS system, or the accounts software. And they rarely use their website to capture data and gain knowledge about their customers – even though it’s easy to do so.
These are often the businesses with managers complaining about sales or the economy. Yet if they just invested some time and money into creating a customer database they’d be in much better financial shape and minimise the peaks and troughs in their trade. And it only needs to be little data – not BIG data.
Peter Sheppard has been thriving for 40 years through smart use of customer data. And by adapting to technological changes he has continued to enhance his personal service. His business is still a hard core retail one and it still uses the way of direct marketing to succeed, even in the digital world.
What’s that adage again – what’s old is new again…again?
One thing that amazes me in the digital world is the blissful naivety of so many marketers. They assume/believe that because a new technology platform and media channels have been added to the marketing mix, all other proven media channels no longer work.
I was talking with a marketing manager for a large telco who was responsible for selling multi-million dollar telecommunications stuff to large organisations. I was showing her some webkey-in-mail technology that is used successfully around the world by hundreds of brands to generate B2B leads. She said straight-faced “wow, direct mail has never been on my radar“. (She’d only been working in marketing since 2002).
So I pressed delicately, “how do you generate leads for your salesforce?” She answered deadpan, “it’s really difficult because online doesn’t work and nobody wants to do telemarketing, so we struggle.” I looked around for the worm-hole entrance to the parallel universe into which I’d entered and finished the meeting shaking my head. All I could think of was those poor shareholders whose funds were invested in this mob. Yes!
The same thinking exists in consumer advertising. Last week Westfield announced the were pulling out of Facebook advertising because it doesn’t work. But the marketing manager appeared surprised that the most powerful channel in the retail industry is a magazine or catalogue.
Retail catalogues are over 150 years old. They have been mailed to customers by major retailers since before the word marketing was invented. Amazing – content marketing existed in the 19th century. And this content lead to virtual shopping via the postal system. Here I was thinking it was a digi-idea?
Twenty years ago, my agency established the first custom magazine for TourismNSW. It was a quarterly Bulletin, packed with information and offers for destinations around NSW. We advertised subscriptions in press and via unaddressed postcards delivered en mass into letterboxes. We built a database of hundreds of thousands of customers to whom we mailed the Bulletin.
We then undertook research to determine where consumers preferred to get information about holidaying in NSW . The Bulletin was by far the preferred media, way ahead of television and other channels (prior to the internet). Even better, it was self-funded by tourism advertisers so cost very little to get to market. The tourism operators loved the Bulletin because it gave them a highly targeted and cost-effective channel in which to advertise.
What do you think marketers do when the research doesn’t tell them what they want to hear? That is, that TV is the best channel. You cancel the magazine and throw away the database. And yet 20 years on, the first call to action on the Visit NSW website is to sign-up to their newsletter. Go figure.
Yesterday in the Sunday papers in Sydney there was a 16-page sponsored insert “Discover The North Island” promoting holidays in the North Island of New Zealand. It is effectively a magazine showcasing holidays using an editorial style, packed with information – just like the Tourism NSW Bulletin and the 19th century mail order catalogues. It was also supported by online advertising, but I’ll bet those interested in a NZ holiday have kept the magazine as a reference guide.
Interestingly we’ve also discovered the role mail is playing in adult teenagers lives. Most digi-experts will tell marketers they have to be online, in social channels, with an App, blah, blah, blah if you want to reach teenagers. And in some ways they are right. Teenagers are massive users of digital technology – though many are getting fed up with commercial messages and advertisements appearing in their social pages.
But the real way to reach an adult teenager and address them respectfully as an individual adult, is via customised direct mail. Teenagers will tell you that they feel treated as just part of the masses when marketers approach them through digital channels. But when they get a personalised mailing that talks to them as an adult – it means the brand recognises they are no longer “mummy’s boy“. Mail carries enormous cache in making teenagers feel like adults – not digi-kids.
The body language of a personalised letter from a finance company offering a credit card for example, makes a teenager feel more adult than a promotion on a social media site or in other digital channels. Unfortunately marketers are suffering digi-blindness and don’t realise the power of the established, tactile, engaging and proven channels. “Hello out there, anyone listening to their customers?”
That old adage, “what’s old is new again” comes to mind. We’re making the same mistakes we made decades ago – ignoring what works because we only want to see what suits our personal bias. This is a dangerous way to spend marketing budgets.
I have to buy some wine for a party, where’s that catalogue from the weekend paper?
A few years ago I was invited by a government tourism authority to speak at one of their conferences. I was to do a presentation on the event marketing industry, a category in which I have quite some experience.
To prepare, I reviewed 12 months of trade magazine advertising – there are 3 main publications – to see what the industry says about itself through its advertising. Or should I say “paid content” to keep up my digi-creds?
I scanned all sorts of ads for hotels, conference centres and other meeting venues. It was a fascinating exercise, so I presented as if I was from another planet and had just been appointed to a marketing role for a venue in the industry.
I explained to the audience that their computer keyboards had a key that computers on our planet didn’t have. It was a pun key and it had been used in specific ways.
First there was the ‘golf’ pun – here’s a few sample headlines, accompanied by various images of golf courses:
Then there was the ‘meet’ pun:
Then there was the ‘view’ pun accompanied by various views:
Then there was the ‘break from convention’:
And then of course there was the one you’ve never heard of “The unconventional convention”:
And there were a few just weird messages with images of people in suits floating in the ocean like this one:
By the time I finished showing the various advertisements much of audience was hiding under their seats in the fear I was about to show their ads. I even showed an ad by The Duxton hotel and one by The Sheraton hotel that were identical. Same size, same three original photos – an empty bedroom, an empty conference room and an empty table setting.
What the presentation revealed is what happens when people who don’t understand B2B marketing get control of the marketing budget. These are usually marketers who have only ever worked in brand advertising roles – they’ve never sold anything and don’t understand the consultative sales process.
Traditional brand ads do not work as the primary communication in B2B marketing. They are a last resort only if you have loads of budget to waste, or are not interested in generating leads or accountability.
And you can always tell copywriters who don’t know how to sell. They rely on a pun in the headline in the vain hope the ‘creativity’ will somehow break through the clutter and magically create a rush of business. They think that going ‘beyond convention’ makes the ad interesting.
One of the better ads that demonstrated the marketing team understood customers was this one:
Unfortunately the offer was buried in the paragraphs. But it tapped into the problem faced by executive staff who are tasked with organising events on top of their usual workload. Though I doubt these people read event industry trade publications.
B2B marketing requires highly targeted personal messages with an offer or proposition to encourage response. It’s the classic way of direct marketing that works – mass marketing doesn’t. Leads need to be generated for face-to-face meetings, familiarisations, trade show attendance and relationship development. The sales process can take a couple of years.
These DM skills are rarely learned working in consumer brand advertising departments. Events marketing is entirely different to hotel accommodation marketing. Yet time and again marketers waste money on conventional hotel advertising hoping for an unconventional result for their events department.
Looks like my keyboard does have that pun button afterall.
It was with some fanfare in the marketing industry that the Labor Party announced the arrival of some alleged digital marketing experts from Obama’s campaign team. If you’ve followed this blog you’ll know I interviewed Barack Obama’s Director of Direct Marketing for his first election.
She revealed that social channels were good for getting people to identify themselves and their issues, but this was only the start of the sales funnel. The real engagement with those who registered with social media came from email, direct mail, telephone and events, not the social channels.
It also takes time to build relationships once people identify themselves via social channels, so flying in a team 4 weeks out from the election was always going to be a difficult ask for the team – particularly if the team isn’t briefed properly on the way Australian media differs from the US.
And it is vastly different. For a start, in Australia anyone can stick printed literature in your letterbox – and anyone does. It is one of the most powerful media channels. Just ask Coles and Woolies what would happen to their business if they couldn’t distribute catalogues via unaddressed mail. Politicians love mail – both addressed and unaddressed – particularly at election time, because it’s extremely social and it works.
This is not the case in the US. All mail has to go through the US Postal service, as it owns the letterboxes. You cannot send mass unaddressed mail. It’s a channel that does not exist in the US like it does in Australia.
Now I am yet to find anyone who admits to following a politician’s social posts such as Twitter or Facebook, yet obviously lots of people do. But there are at least four issues with social channels in the political context.
The first is users A.S.S. Time – as posted here before. Very few social media posts ever get seen by anyone except those who post them.
Secondly, the lifeblood of social media is traditional media. Without publicity on television and other mass media, most social posts end up as digi-wind floating in cyber space.
Thirdly, most of those who follow politicians social sludge are already supporters, so the commentary is preaching to the converted, which is not always the best use of limited resources.
And the fourth factor emerged in this campaign. The body language of social posts when transferred to mass media can do more damage among the larger mass audience, than the potential positives from appearing in the narrow social channel.
Around 90% of Australians cannot be bothered with Twitter. So when the mass media publish photos of for example, a PM’s bathroom selfie Tweet, most of those non-Twits tend to say to themselves “WTF?” – the image is out of context and loses relevance.
Labor Senator Trish Crossin said “Labor had focused too much on social media and neglected the main game of mainstream media, letterbox drops and providing website information. Just look at the Labor Party website. I cannot find our climate change policy and I can’t see a how-to-vote card on any state or national site.
“Most of the material I saw coming through my office – it was not attractive. It was very negative. People say to me, ‘how much have you had in your letterbox’. Nobody says how many Facebook posts or Tweets.”
And that’s a very astute point – comparatively speaking, only a minority of people will look at social posts for news. It’s just not where the majority of people get the majority of their information. Social media is on the fringe of the communication channels in politics, but it is useful.
Mail is one of the most powerful channels for political campaigns, partly because of its tactile nature and local focus – way more powerful that a Tweet. You cannot door-knock with a Tweet, but you can leave a brochure under the door, or in the voters hands.
As I write this, the Facebook sites of both major parties:
Tony Abbott – 258,921 Likes
Kevin Rudd – 127,547 Likes
Given that most social media ‘experts’ claim Likes carry huge weight, then Abbott has blitzed Rudd on FB as well as votes. Yet Labor was supposed to be the party that lead in social media? The conspiracy theorists wonder if the numbers were manipulated.
I’ll leave that to others to decide, but among the media noise of the election, another commercial decision about social media was made last week.
Westfield withdraws from Facebook
Westfield announced it was pulling out of Facebook advertising as it doesn’t pay. They have tracked all their channels and their magazine is the most powerful media for engaging customers and generating sales. Who’d have thought – a printed publication that shows a range of retail products and the related prices, would perform better than social media? Gosh what a surprise.
The Director of Marketing, John Batistich said although Westfield has a large fan community on Facebook – upwards of 700,000 – Facebook advertising had been a poor performer. “Facebook is just a bit clunky and not many people have done well. We’ve got a big Facebook community with very good interaction but we’ve cut all advertising on Facebook.
Not many people have made Facebook work in a commercial sense. We’ve tracked it right through our online marketplace loop compared to a whole lot of other channels. We’ve done some things on Facebook and how that clicks through to our online marketplace and how it goes through to our payment gateway. It’s one of the lowest of all channels that we could track, whether it be EDMs or an online banner ad. Its conversion right through that [purchasing] funnel is one of the lowest.”
Which is exactly what Forrester Research revealed when it researched the world’s top online retail stores – less then 0.4% of links to online retail sites come from social media.
As I’ve said before, there’s a reason it’s not called “business media“.
At least we don’t have an election for another 3 years – assuming of course the Senate cooperates blah, blah, blah…
We’ve all had those jobs we remember fondly. One of my favourites was the launch of Hyatt Regency Coolum, back in 1989. I was running O & M Direct and we did all the marketing from the launch stage. Up until earlier this year, the resort was still a client of my agency, so we have a long history.
It was the first spa resort in Australia, built on a swamp on the Sunshine Coast. It’s offering was very unique back then, though much copied now.
The launch wasn’t without it’s hiccups. If you’ve been there you’ll know there is a palm-lined entry road that sweeps into the resort. Well the first palms they planted came from a rainforest (legally). Now I’m no botanist, but if you take palms from a rainforest, which by its nature has a canopy to shield the harsh sunlight, and replant them in the hot Queensland sun, what do you think will happen? You’re right. They all wilted and died and had to be replaced with a different type of palm, which still lives there today.
The initial expectation was that the wealthy socialites from Toorak, South Yarra and the Eastern suburbs of Sydney would fly up and treat themselves to some expensive pampering. Unfortunately the launch deals were so good, the resort suffered an influx of weekend warriors from Brisbane who brought their own eskies stocked with XXXX beer and food. That’s pronounced ‘4 ex’ for those who don’t know Australian beer brands. And it’s not called ‘XXXX’ because the locals cannot spell beer – I’m told that’s a myth:)
But this crowd would descend at weekends with their own food and booze and not spend a cent at the resort – which wasn’t the management plan. So eventually the offers were changed.
The resort was launched using just direct mail to 400 influencial people. These days they’d probably have a digi-label like “Influencers” or “Advocates” or “Ambassadors“. The mailing was a box with a Russian Doll inside. Each time you opened one doll, it revealed a benefit of the resort, such as “find the artist inside you” and “find a new way to relax” until the final doll said “find yourself at Hyatt Regency Coolum”. There was a letter, brochure and an invitation to experience the resort.
This was our “Content Marketing Strategy”. Hundreds of the recipients took up the offer – and then went back and publicised the resort for us. Ita Buttrose ran a fashion shoot in Women’s Weekly magazine, while stories appeared in fashion, tourism, food, business and other general interest publications as well as TV. Many influencers wanted to be photographed as the first people using the resort, so they used publicists to ensure it was known they were staying there. There was so much publicity we printed all the PR ‘content’ as a booklet and used it in further mailings and promotions. Nothing like content marketing 1980’s style! And it did win loads of awards, which is very important if you work in advertising.
Then we launched the TV ad – with the tag line “Find yourself at Coolum” – hey, we were integrated marketers. We shot it on a 1 star budget though – check it out on YouTube. Very 1980’s.
And given that nobody knew where Coolum was – Google Earth didn’t exist – we had to play on the “find yourself” double entendre. The TVCs had offers attached to the end of them which varied depending upon the market in which they ran. They were supported with a range of press advertisements which also contained offers. We learnt long ago that the punters view all ads as brand ads, so we didn’t need to create a separate brand campaign.
The resort was successfully managed by Hyatt for almost 25 years, overcoming the great airplane strike and other recessions – then Clive Palmer’s company took ownership last year.
Those who had managed it for years are no longer there. I returned with friends and family to stay in one of the homes next to the resort in January this year. The home comes with a golf cart and access to use the resort facilities at a discount. The first day was our last day using the facilities, except for golf.
It was obvious things had changed by the giant yellow signs with thin black san serif font “GR8 Food” displayed on the main road. Not exactly what you’d use to position a 5-star resort. Then of course there is the dinosaur on the first tee – certainly unique in the world of international golf and the (now former) home of the Australian PGA.
On our first day, I ordered a takeaway coffee – $5 at resort prices. While waiting for my cup of java, I witnessed something to make Faulty Towers a first class establishment. A lady appeared from behind the bar with 2 cups of coffee and proceeded to walk around the empty cafe seating area looking for the customers. She couldn’t find them, so dumped the coffees on the bar and left them there. Eventually two ladies appeared asking about their coffee order and were directed to the cups getting cold at the end of the bar.
I’m still waiting for my coffee.
Then a man ordered two cocktails – it was almost noon. The barman looked at his watch and exclaimed “you want cocktails at this time of day?” The customer said “well it is a resort and I am on holidays.” So the disgruntled barman rang someone else in the resort who could make cocktails and told them to come down to the bar and do so. It took over 12 minutes for the cocktail-kid to turn up and another 10 to make them.
I’m still waiting for my coffee.
Then a lady carrying a tray of java and other drinks turned around behind the bar without looking and ran straight into the non-cocktail barman, spilling all drinks everywhere.
I’m still waiting for my coffee.
Meanwhile a bloke had ordered 4 coffees after me and was looking anxiously at his watch, as I advised him I had only ordered one.
Then the drinks-tray lady, that appeared to have “trainee” on her badge, but I didn’t have my glasses so cannot be sure, started to make one coffee on a machine designed to make 8 or 10 cups. It was an act in rigid slow motion and was obviously something she had not done very often.
I’m still waiting for my coffee.
Turns out the “trainee” was making mine. It was so hot I nearly burnt my fingers through the wax-paper cup. I smiled hopefully at the 4-cup bloke as I walked away – we’d bonded while we waited. I took one sip and immediately found the garbage bin where I dumped the cup after pouring the java into the garden – it was the best use of those poor sacrificed beans.
I’m not sure whether 4-cup bloke got his coffee or not.
A few days later I took my son for 9 holes of golf – who knows, he may be good at it and keep me in my later years? My good mate who was sharing the holiday house with us, went to the practise green to brush up on his pitching and putting.
As we played, Clive’s helicopters arrived not far off. My mate finished his practise, picked up his wedge, putter and bag of balls and decided to walk over and meet us at the 7th green to share a lift back in the golf cart. On his way, Clive went past on his cart and my mate acknowledged him with a freindly ‘hello‘ and a wave.
By the time my mate met us at the 7th green, the Course Marshall had arrived to kick him off the course. Apparently Clive had rung him, concerned that my mate was playing golf illegally on the course and had rung the Marshall and instructed him to act. The Marshall was extremely embarrassed when he spoke with us, but had to do as he was told.
The point is that my mate could have been the resort’s most valuable customer. Clive had no idea who he was and didn’t care. And how much golf could you ‘steal’ with a putter and wedge on that course? My mate had to walk all the way back to our house on his own.
This is not how you treat customers in a 5-star resort. But maybe the plans are to reduce the number of stars, so the expectation of service downgrades too? Who knows what’s going to happen, given the dinosaurs, the Titanic 2 and the recent political ambitions?
All I know is that we won’t be going back and neither will the other family that was with us. I understand we’re not the only ones, as occupancy levels are alleged to be near the lowest they have ever been.
It’s a shame, as I’ve always liked finding myself at Coolum, so to speak. We’ll just have to find another place to stay.
Where’s my Google?
What makes a good outbound telemarketer? It’s a question I’ve heard asked for years, with some fascinating answers.
One manager claimed outrageously that a person’s weight was a factor in their telemarketing skills.
The smart people at Cellarmasters Wines found that actors were some of their best telemarketers. There were a number of reasons for this:
Quite some years ago, I opened my first telemarketing division, as part of a B2B sales lead process in our marketing team. One lady (let’s call her Liz) stood out above all others in terms of closing appointments. After Liz had been with us for about a year, a staff member suggested that Liz was working another job – as an escort at a well-known city brothel. I had no idea how this person knew this, but she swore it was true.
The brothel was one of those illegal ones that operated in full view of the public, because the Madame threatened to reveal her client list if it was shut down – and that would have been catastrophic for the government and certain businesses who had accounts at the establishment.
After some deliberation, I took Liz for a coffee and a chat. This was not an area in which I’d had any management training and couldn’t find anything in the “101 HR Manual” to assist me. So I just winged it.
Liz admitted she did have another job (her primary job) and in fact her employment with our company was her secondary job. I was a tad disappointed. But our job provided legitimacy for her to justify her income. And it was only 4 to 6 hours per day, 3 days a week.
She explained how she came to work as an escort, working only for diplomats and politicians – and only on call-out from the brothel. She’d never worked the streets, only the ‘premium’ end of the business. And she was married to one of her former clients.
Liz was not embarrassed about it and obviously made good money, because in the early 1980’s she drove a sports car with personalised number plates and a car phone – this was when the only people with car phones were the security services.
Liz said candidly, but with a grin; “Malcolm, I can talk the pants off anyone – it’s why I’m so good at telemarketing”. I wasn’t sure how to respond, so I just nodded like one of those toy dogs in the back of cars. It was one of the few times an “open-mouth expressionless gawk” served as the best management tool.
Liz worked with us for a few years. I have no idea where she is now – I suspect retired and probably in good financial shape.
These days it’s even harder to get telemarketing to work, regardless of the skills of the staff, because people hide behind technology. They use voicemail to filter calls and given that good manners are not part of management training any more, most people don’t bother returning unsolicited calls. The right-party hit rates are declining as telemarketers spend more time talking to machines than to humans.
Maybe this will change when every phone call is a video call – that will make for interesting recruitment policies.
Gotta run, there’s the phone. Or should I let it go to voicemail?
I recently attended an excellent lunch in Sydney hosted by Talent2. The guest speaker was the CEO of the AFL, Andrew Demetriou, on the day the AFL was being threatened with legal action as part of the Essendon issues. Andrew was genuinely very happy to be in Sydney.
In his presentation he revealed the future that digital technology was going to play in the AFL’s direct marketing plans. They and the various clubs will be able to talk directly with their fans in such a way that the fans will eventually be able to order a meat pie delivered to their seat at the stadium, paying for it with a digital wallet.
It will be good for pie sales, though I doubt it will help heart conditions or waste lines. At least you burn a few calories climbing the stadium stairs to get your dog’s eye with dead horse.
Andrew also shared all manner of statistics gained from measuring their marketing activities, including user numbers, content downloads, revenue streams, media usage as well as new plans to add even more value. It’s ironic how brands are finally paying heed to the value of data, given the attitude to data prior to the interweb.
The AFL is a media organisation in itself and will leverage its content and merchandise to increase revenues in many different ways via direct contact with the fans. You only have to look at the powerful EPL clubs to see the possibilities.
It’s a very exciting time for direct marketing in sport – as that’s where true fans come into their own as far as spending money goes. They are far more powerful and profitable than Facebook fans for example. Fan databases are the rivers of gold that will fund the revenue growth of the big sports.
I lived in Melbourne when Andrew was playing in the VFL. My girlfriend at the time was a former Miss VFL – am not sure what she did to win, apart from being attractive and being Miss Carlton, Essendon, St Kilda or whateever team she represented. I’ll protect her identity by not naming the club.
She was a lovely lady – intelligent, articulate and held a senior management position in an international company. But come Saturday morning, she grew a second head. I’ll call it her VFL head. And it was in complete contrast to her usual personality.
She took me to my first game – which was an experience in itself. It was in the days before big screens at the grounds and we were near the fence down the front. This meant when the game was on the other side of the field, you couldn’t see the play. So people had radios on, played cards and knitted until the game came back into view. It was very communal.
The ball was kicked to our side of the field. One of the opposition players picked it up and kicked it in the air. One of his team-mates caught it and he kicked it in the air. Another of their team-mates caught it and he kicked it in the air. So I applauded, given they got three in a row.
Suddenly my girlfriend’s colleagues started shoving me and questioning what I was doing. I said “I was applauding the football”. They screamed back “you’re not here to watch the football, you’re here to hate Collingwood”.
I’d never experienced such tribal attitudes in sport – and I used to get paid to play, a long time ago.
So I described this to Andrew and asked if the AFL specifically worked on creating such tribalism. He explained the game had been going for so many generations that you were born into a team. Your grandparents followed them, your parents followed them and you followed them. Unless of course you wanted to start WW3. Apparently he lives in a mixed-team household (caused by marriage) so it can be difficult at times.
Tribalism works well for teams with a heritage, but it literally takes generations for a team that has been manufactured as a start-up, or moved to a new location, to build a local fan base.
It’s why the new AFL team in Sydney will struggle for quite a while – it’s called GWS. It’s a new football code in an area that has lots of kids, but not many have grown up playing or watching the AFL. And given the competition from ARL and the A-League, it will take a while for the GWS tribe to grow into anything meaningful. It’s why the AFL is spending enormous amounts to attempt to build a critical mass of young players at grass roots level, because without kids playing the game, no adults emerge to play it or support it.
Kids also need heroes to aspire to and emulate. So when a new team like GWS isn’t winning, it’s harder to inspire locals to support it. But the AFL obviously has loads of money to invest and just as over a couple of generations, the Sydney Swans gained support from those other than “people in Sydney who used to live in Melbourne” so GWS may build a solid fan base.
There have been a number of casualties in the ARL/NRL and A-League, partly due to a lack of fan support – which translates directly to lack of revenue.
Maybe GWS should advertise for local AFL fans who hate Sydney Swans? It would be easier to convert them, than to convert fans of other codes and it would help build the local derby.
All that earlier talk of food, I’m off to the bakery.