Monday, November 26, 2012

Direct Musketeers!

In a recent conversation, it was commented that I spoke as a 'direct marketeer'. I took it as a compliment and, in my head, heard 'musketeer' of course.

The Musketeers, Maurice Leloir, 1894
 Direct marketing and the musketeers are not so different. Dear d'Artangnan would never stand aloof from the oncoming army on a battlement throwing out random shot at his enemy, oh no. Our bold musketeer would be in the thick of it - engage one to one, face to face, and adapt his fighting style to his opponent. He would never use a cannon against one man with a sword; that, my dears, would not be honourable.

This may seem like a ramble, but I think it is rather a good analogy. In the past marketing was rather more blunderbuss and boiling oil over the parapet in the hope it would hit the target.  We call that mass marketing. Examples would be TV, print  and radio adverts - no control over who the message is going to reach. Newspapers and magazines undrestand their audience and carry adverts most likely to match their reader, but they don't start with 'Dear Milady de Winter, so glad you are watching/reading this advert...' - it's just not possible (yet).

Returning to my musketeers, when the objective is to kill, perhaps the mass approach is more effective, but when it is to sell - whether that be a government or a product - then the winning of hearts and minds is very much a key campaign objective. And to do that, you have to understand who your audience are and what they want to hear.

Direct marketeers need to approach the audience the way that the musketeers would - approaching the most appropriate opponent with respect, honour and dignity. That's direct marketing, and direct marketeers should 'treat others as we would be treated'. Each of the musketeers has a different appeal and characteristic: the noble and secretive Athos, the honest and extrovert Porthos, the womanising Aramis and the dashing d'Artagnan.  Dumas developed engaging characters that had varied appeal - and marketers do the same. We just call it audience segmentation, which sounds far less romantic.

The motto of the direct marketeers could be similar to that of the musketeers too: 

"All for one and one for one!" 

Marketeers adopt a wide range of techniques to get consumers to buy their products, donate to their charity or to support their political or social cause. But the best sell of all is usually the most personal. Even in our technological age, the adage that 'people buy from people' is still true. We may order goods on line, but if we want to know more about a product or service, or have a question, we like to speak to people.
Real living people. So the more personal you can get in a communication, whether it's a letter, email, phone call or face to face, the better.

Probably best to leave the sword at home, though.
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