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Interview with Management First Magazine UK

    1. You have worked in the Direct Marketing industry for over 22 years and always approach your work with great passion and enthusiasm. What is it that you love about direct marketing?

      It's the fact that you are working 'on the edge' at all times. In DM it's all about results.

      If we create a campaign that doesn't pull as expected, the client is on the phone after a couple of weeks. Our above the line cousins have never experienced that...

      It's a kind of pressure that keeps you razor sharp...

      What do you think of today's marketing efforts? Are marketers getting any better at what they do?

      No, not at all. Quite the reverse...

      The vast majority of advertising and marketing you see these days, is absolute tosh. In my view, it has never been worse. The industry is full of charlatans...

      Just look at automotive TV ads. Who creates this rubbish? And what are the clients doing signing it off?

      It's just unbelievable.

      Ray Jutkins said that "Every day in the marketplace, this is what happens: something passes in front of our eyes 32,000 times.

      We are exposed to 570 advertising, marketing and promotional messages. Of these, we 'see' or 'hear' only 76.

      And, by the end of the day, 3 of the 12 we do remember, we remember negatively." What do you think are the biggest mistakes made by marketers today?

      Well, how long have you got? There are so many...

      I really believe that people don't spend enough time studying the art of contemporary communication. The customer is now very firmly in control. What's more, the customer knows it.

      As a result, everything that is created has to be very, very good these days to make an impact and rise above the general noise level. But you very rarely see any...

      People should read Caples, Hopkins, James Webb Young and other greats like that. If they did, they would get better...
      75% of all direct marketing effort is spent on direct mail. Why do you think this is? And in your experience what is the most effective part of a mail pack?

      There are five elements in a direct mail pack. Here are the most important elements in the correct order. The targeting. Followed by the letter. Then the offer. After that, the timing. Bottom of the five is the creative.

      This is not the gospel according to Andy Owen by the way. These are test figures. From the trenches...

      The reason direct mail is so popular is simple. It works. If created correctly and sent to the right people at the right time with a strong offer, it will deliver a better return £ for £, $ for $ than any other route.

      You are famed for being one of the best copywriters of the modern day, winning awards in all types of industry all over the world. So, what are your top tips on how to write successful copy?

      Again, there is no 'snappy quick' answer to this. There are many things that are required.

      Firstly, it is vital to understand your target. If you don't connect, you won't sell. Simple as that.

      Secondly, always remember that people buy benefits not features. No one is interested in you, your company, your company history or your mission statement. They are not interested in what your product or service will do. They are only interested in what that product or service will do for them.

      This is a massive difference.

      When you next have an hour to spend, I would be delighted to tell you about the other elements...

      These days you can rarely pick up a marketing industry magazine without reading about one of the most talked about buzzwords: CRM. What are your thoughts on CRM?

      Unprintable. It's marketing masturbation.

      The customer is king. But that has always been the case. There is nothing new there. Remember the corner shop...?

      When oh when will people who push this stupidity, realise that individuals do not want a relationship with a company or organisation. They know that such an arrangement will be on the company's terms.

      I don't want a relationship with anyone that provides me with products or services I like. But, I'll have an affair.

      As we all know, there is a significant difference between the two.

      Database marketing rules and always will. CRM is a waste of time and money as has already been well proven in its very short existence.

      E-mail marketing is seen by many as a cheaper alternative to direct mail. Do you agree?

      I do not. Every morning I wake up to over 200 emails in my in-box. What used to be a pleasurable experience is now something that fills me with dread.

      And, from what delegates at my conferences tell me all around the world, everyone feels the same...

      I believe quite strongly that people are not in a 'buying mode' when they open their in-boxes. Cold emailing simply does not work any more.

      Email can, however, be quite successful if used to communicate with existing customers and
      opt-in audiences.

      Are brands doing themselves more damage than good on the World Wide Web?

      Some are, of course. The ones that annoy you certainly are. It happened with BT and certain financial players when they cold - called people at home. The same will happen on the web.

      But, we all have to have a presence there now. That's a fact.

      You mention several heroes of marketing in your regular column for the Chartered Institute of Marketing E-zine. Who would be your favourite? And what is your favourite quote by them?

      Of the dead ones, John Caples and Claude Hopkins are two giants. Of those still alive, Drayton Bird is a genius. (I'll tell him again when I have lunch with him next week...)

      I have loads and loads of great quotes but this is one of my favourites from another inspirational man, David Ogilvy...

      "I keep on beating the drum for advertising that sells and flogging those who think that advertising is entertainment. I will go to my grave believing that advertisers want results and that the advertising business may go to its grave believing otherwise."

      Unfortunately he did too. A sad loss...