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INTERVIEW with Croatian Business Newspaper - February 2011

    1. You have worked in the direct marketing industry for more than 29 years and always approach your work with great passion and enthusiasm.You have your agency Andy Owen and Associates in the UK and the Middle East and associate offices in Europe and the USA, you travelling all over the world to work with clients and sharing the knowledge for direct marketing.  What is it that you love about direct marketing?

    Well, direct marketing is in my DNA.  It has been part of me for over 30 years.  I simply love the business and the challenges it gives me.

    There is no greater challenge in marketing than crafting and writing a communication to an individual and then seeing that individual respond to what you have created.  Because,  remember that direct marketing is one to one marketing.  It  is not mass marketing.

    So, whatever your communication may be, whether it's a DM pack, email, ad, SMS or anything else for that matter, you are communicating with an individual, NOT a target market.

    And it's such a buzz to me, when that person – and others just like them - respond and make my clients a lot of money.
    It's very fulfilling.  Very rewarding.  And nothing comes close to that feeling...

    1. You are the speaker at the 8th Central European Direct marketing Congres Direkt in Slovenia. You will present “How well does your company communicate?”Are you making these basic mistakes?* What are the three biggest mistakes anyone should avoid in direct communication?

    1.  Not understanding how to communicate.  Marketers today are so lazy and they don't study.  They don't really understand the basics of communication.

    As a result, most campaigns underperform and valuable budget is wasted.

    2.  Talking about  the company instead of the benefits.  This happens so often.  Companies want to tell people how long they have been in business, what their mission statements are, what they stand for – and other useless stuff like that.

    Trust me, no one is interested.  People are only interested in offers, benefits and value.

    3. Not respecting the individual you are writing to.  Don't fall into this trap.  A lot of companies do.  Their promotions are arrogant and they talk down to their targets, instead of making them feel special and wanted.

    1. What do you think of  today's marketing efforts? Are marketers in general have enough communication skills?

    In my 30+ years in this business I have never known the quality of marketing to be so bad. It has never been worse, in my view.  And the reason is simple.  Marketers don't study.

    1. You have valuable experience with marketing campaigns all over the world. One of the main benefit of direct mail is ability to calculate the effectiveness of campaign. In your opinion what is a good ROI of sucesfull marketing campaign?

    There is no 'snappy-quick' answer to this.  It really depends on the individual campaign challenge.  Markets differ.  Sectors differ.  Timings differ.

    And response levels to different  mediums differ as well.  So, it is vital that the client company shares past informatio with the agency, so that meaningful and realistic targets can be set and achieved.

    1. Do you think that new ways to reach audience such as social networks and e-mail, will destroy the direct mail or will combination of direct mail and new media play big role in the future?

    Read this article of mine and see for yourself.

    The sad fact is, that today's marketers think that new is king.  They have been seduced by digital and the internet and nothing else matters to them.

    They are so wrong, it's a crime.  For example, email as a prospecting tool, is dead in the water.  Everywhere in the world, it is the same.  Email can't hold a candle to direct mail.

    Direct mail is outperforming email in head to head tests, everywhere.  UK, Europe, USA, South Africa, Pacific Rim...EVERYWHERE.  Yet blinkered marketers continue  to use it and ignore the results.  Opening rates for emails in the UK now are under 10% for the first time.  And those rates are still dropping. 

    Those are scary numbers.  Opeing rates for direct mail are between 85-90%.

    So, work out the maths.  It's not rocket science.  It's not what it costs that's important.  It's what it delivers.

    1. Do you think that with these new technologies, we are forgetting the basic rules of an efficient direct marketing campaign? Are companies capable to respond to trends, opportunities?

    Yes, basic rules of communication, handed down by the greats will ALWAYS work, whatever medium you use.  Times change, but people don't.
    Why people respond to promotions is pretty much the same as decades ago.  And it will be the same decades from now.  The words you use, the creative approach you take, is like a  formula.   There is nothing new in our business.  Just new channels to market.

    1. The main theme of the Congress Direct2012 is SOCIO+EMOCIO, because in social media time we have such a great oportunitty to communicate with audiences, besides thousand of Facebook friends we are still feeling lonely and that's not enough. The point is that we still need traditional methods and comunicate with emotions in all communications channels. What is your thinking of that?

    What do you mean, feeling lonely?  Facebook is not the answer.   Never has been, never will be.  Very few companies can use Facebook commercially well. 

    Traditional methods work fantastically well, if created and written by people who know what they are doing.  Still, nothing works better than a well written letter.  Even with all these new social networks.
    Try it and you will see...

    1. What advice do you have to marketers at this time, when growth is down, budgets are lower and the future uncertain? Besides this is difficult to catch consumer's attention in a world full of brand messages.

    Every penny/cent has to work harder these days than ever before. The recipient of our communications is now in charge.   Whether it's a consumer or business person.  And they know it, too

    This means that marketers must create effective communications to cut through, or the messages will not be read or acted upon.  Start understanding the communication process.   Creating communications that works, is an art.  Writing copy that cuts through and gets people to do what you want them to do, is a very rare skill.  Don't think you can do it yourself. 

    Odds are, you haven't got the skill.  Find people who have.  And don't give DM briefs to above the line agencies.  They will take your money and waste it.

    Andy Owen is MD of Andy Owen & Associates, a leading International direct marketing consultancy, specialising in all aspects of creative, copy and strategy for direct marketing.

    The company's corporate website is www.andyowen.co.uk

    The specialist copy division has its own site at www.copywritingthatsells.com

    Andy is personally involved in every creative and copy element that is produced by Andy Owen & Associates. As well as his International speaking engagements, Andy runs in-house copywriting and direct marketing Masterclasses, Workshops and Seminars for companies and organisations all over the world.

    You can contact Andy personally at andyowen@aol.com