“It’s just a marketing call…”

Five words that really made me angry on Wednesday night.

Next Directory has been calling at various times of the day, for weeks.  (I know this because I’ve been on paternity leave, generally screen 08xx numbers and this particular number was becoming familiar).

At a particularly bad time (boys bath and bed time) , the phone rang again so I answered it. The guy explained where he was from and asked if it was a good time to call. I said it really wasn’t and asked what it was regarding. He said “It’s just a marketing call.”

As a marketer, I was actually really offended. Here’s why?

1. It wasn’t marketing, it was poorly disguised, badly executed, short term selling. Stands to reason that ringing a house with children at 6.30 at night isn’t the best time to sell them something.

2. It wasn’t targeted. I’ve never been a Next Directory customer, and never had a catalogue agreement with any other company. In fact, we generally only shop at Next twice a year during the winter and summer sales. And I’m a marketer, so by dismissing the call in that way was unlikely to ingratiate me his offering.

3. I hadn’t given permission for them to call me at home during my private time. This is perhaps the biggest faux paus yet businesses just like Next are committing it day in, day out. Brands trying to use social media tools like Facebook and Twitter are falling particularly foul of blurring the lines between acceptable customer engagement and their personal space.

4. It demeaned marketing, a profession and speciality I’m passionate and proud about. The words used implied marketing was deemed insignificant, at least in the eyes of this Next ‘ambassador’.

I imagine Next top brass would be mortified to see marketing disregarded in this way. I would if I were them, but then I’d hope I’d done my homework, researched, qualified prospects, warmed them up, and executed a much better approach.

One thirty second call. A lifetime of damage and a big call out on this blog. There’s no such thing as ‘just a marketing call’.


Image BTB Training


2 responses to ““It’s just a marketing call…”

  1. Hi Rene,

    Somewhere at Next there is a marketer who is presenting his “success rate” from his cold calling programme. As there are in hundreds of other UK companies.

    But your experience is instructive. People no longer tolerate being interrupted by your sales message. They remember – and thus you start from less than zero next time you try to sell. They tell their friends, their colleagues and contacts – and they tweet, blog or whatever.

    So we should not be talking about “My 1% success rate on my last campaign”. We should be thinking – “I annoyed 99 people and made those 99 less likely to buy, just to get 1 person who might be interested”.

    Looked at that way, interruption marketing doesn’t have such a great ROI, does it?

    • Thanks Peter, bang on. In a similar way, I’ve been briefing an estate agent today on my prospective house sale. Last year one agent got my 30+ viewings and two offers £20k under the asking price. They thought they’d done a good job – but I’d spent 2 hours in advance of every visit making the house tidy, and there were others that didn’t show up. What I wanted was one credible viewing leading to an offer from a serious, targeted prospect, not 29 badgered into viewing a house they probably weren’t interested in. Another effort vs return case, just like companies more fixated by turnover than profitability as you say.

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