Friday, 13 November 2009

Marketing Channel #1: Telemarketing

Choosing the right channel of marketing for your company can feel like a minefield. Using a marketing agency to recommend the correct form of marketing for your products/services can mean the difference between an enormous ROI or a complete failure to create awareness and sign new customers. Over the next several weeks I'm going to explain the various forms of marketing and the pros and cons associated with each.

One of the most popular forms, and also one of the most traditional forms, of marketing for businesses is telemarketing. This form of marketing has a bad reputation and has come under fire over the past 10 years. Many people view these as 'nuisance calls' more than marketing based calls. Unfortunately, due to many companies outsourcing this activity to offshore companies based in places like Sri Lanka and India as well as implementing automatic dialling systems, companies have lost the personal touch that once made this form of marketing so effective.

Companies using telemarketing in their business too often try to increase their client base or sales during a 2-minute conversation. It is, in my opinion, never a good idea to try and close a sale over the phone without first having met the client or customer you intend to do business with. Telemarketing should be used strictly for validation services (i.e. to capture market intelligence on your customer base), appointment setting and lead generation. It is important that companies are realistic in what they hope to achieve telemarketing and should recognize that as with most forms of marketing, it will take time to convert any leads generated into customers.

This form of marketing should be used as a 'door opener'. Nothing more, nothing less. Often companies feel their sales dept should handle all stages of the sales process - from making that first phone call to getting the clients to sign on the dotted line. The reality is that just because someone is a fantastic sales person in a face-to-face meeting doesn't necessarily mean they will be good at generating leads and appointments over the phone. Furthermore, companies will experience a high level of peaks and troughs in their sales department by asking sales people to handle appointment setting and lead generation themselves. For example, if a sales person is spending time on the phone they are not spending time on sales meetings. If an individual spends time on the phone making themselves appointments they will then spend the next several weeks out on the meetings. But what happens when they've had the last of the meetings? Suddenly the cycle starts all over again - peaks and troughs.

By employing an experienced marketing agency to undertake this activity a company can rely on a consistent stream of leads and appointments for their sales department. It is important to remember that the point of outsourcing this area is to make a generous return on your investment. Before agreeing to outsource this activity it is vital that your order value is significantly higher than what the agency is charging you to undertake this work.

It is also important to remember that this form of marketing is not appropriate for every company. Some companies may benefit more from using digital marketing or other forms of traditional marketing to generate leads. It is important that the agency you have chosen to use is honest and reliable. It is often a good idea to ask for a 'trial' campaign before committing to any long-term or high volume contracts. Next week I will explain the advantages and disadvantages to handling this form of marketing internally as opposed to outsourcing this.

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