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Interview for HUMAN CAPITAL

  1. Mr. Owen, on what depends the effectivenessof direct marketing campaign?

In a word - knowledge. 
In many key areas: 

  1. Knowing how to write and create effective campaigns.  This takes years and years of study,
  2. Knowledge of the product or service you are selling.  This can take longer than many people think.
  3. Knowledge of the audience you are targeting.  This is paramount.  You must understand them.
  4. Knowing how to sell the benefits, not the features.  This is usually misunderstood by most people.
  5. Some marketing experts seek to be very creative but others think that the message matters when it is simple and direct. What kind of message in what kind of situations do you prefer?

This depends greatly on the particular challenge.  There is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution.  Every brief, every communications challenge, is unique.  But, one thing is certain.  In direct marketing, pretty pictures rarely sell.  It’s words that do the selling…

  1. What is your advice - when we are working on a campaign but we think that we experience a creativity crisis? How can we find our inspiration?

Read “A technique for producing ideas” by James Webb Young.  It’s a classic…

  1. Before we start to express our message how can we check what it effectiveness would be?

You can’t.  But you can put the odds on your side, by re-reading my answer to Question 1.

  1. Why does the letter type and the appearance of the message, card or the flyer matter?

Because your mailing/insert/flyer is your salesman.  You want to give the right impression and you want your message to be read.  If your marketing collateral looks cheap, then so will your company.  If your creative is badly done and poorly written with the wrong typeface, then it will not be read.  And if it is not read, then it will not deliver a sale.

  1. With the technology advance many more people associate the direct marketing with the email and with the spam. Is that a problem for the business?

Yes. Direct marketing is more than email.  Much, much more. But young marketers have been seduced by email and everything about it. They think the marketing world revolves around it.  They are so wrong. Email as a prospecting tool, is dead in the water.  Most smart marketers are now diverting large sums of money from email back into direct mail.  That’s because direct mail delivers, both as a prospecting tool and to existing customers.  Email only delivers now, to that latter segment.

  1. What is your advice – how and when to use the direct mail?

There is no off the shelf answer to this.  It depends on the particular marketing challenge.  But, I will say this.  If written and created correctly and sent to the correct audience, direct mail will deliver a better return on investment than any other medium.  I have proven it many, many times…

  1. You are one of the most prominent direct marketers. Tell us about your most successful campaign – what was its aim, how did it look like and what was its effect?

I’ll tell you this story – and many more at my Masterclass!

  1. Can you give an example for unsuccessful campaign? What were the reasons for failure?

I will show you a number of bad campaigns at my Masterclass.  And I will tell you why they failed, too…

  1. Your direct marketing consultancy has branches in Dubai, Bucharest and Moscow. Is it necessary to consider the cultural differences when you prepare a campaign? Can you tell us about such a campaign?

It’s all about understanding the brief and the audience.  You have to respect the culture.  If you don’t, you will have a disaster on your hands.  In the Middle East for example, you cannot show any erotic images, half naked models in your campaigns.  It will damage your brand – and could get you locked up.  When Coca Cola created a new slogan – ‘Coke adds life’ in China, it created a firestorm of hate against the company.  Why?  Because when translated, this means ‘Coke brings your ancestors back from the dead’.

  1.  What do you know about Bulgaria? Do you remember a direct marketing campaign of Bulgarian product or service?

I think I have been to pretty much every country in Eastern Europe except Bulgaria. So, the only thing I know about Bulgaria, is the fact that your women are stunningly attractive.  I believe that is much more important than direct marketing.

Interview with Andy Owen
Birmingham, UK
March 16th 2009