Editorial: Where to Go From Here?

A worrisome detail in last week’s announcement that AT&T’s Government Solutions unit would build the Federal Trade Commission’s national do-not-call registry is the number of people expected to sign up: 60 million. There are only 105 million households in the country, though the question is how many have more than one line? If this number reaches anywhere near 60 million, the industry certainly will see a domino effect — telemarketers will make more calls to the households that haven’t signed up, frustrating those people (who probably liked to buy things by phone) so much that they register as well, and so on, and so on. The American Teleservices Association is right to label its March 24-26 conference as a “survival conference.”

Some marketers will learn to adapt and come up with partnerships and affinity programs to continue to grow their businesses, though the overall industry surely will shrink. However, if telemarketing is truly on the verge of disappearing, why do companies play right into the privacy people’s hands? Two weeks ago, DM News wrote about Castel’s DirectQuest software and its ability to transmit caller-ID information. Also hyped was Castel’s immunity to the TeleZapper, though it says the technology is not to bother consumers but to make calls less intrusive by revealing the identity of the company calling.

Marketers say they don’t want to call people who don’t want to be called. They need to take a page from the one-to-one mindset and know more about the relationship before they make their calls. Spending $40 on a piece of equipment should be more than enough of a signal that someone doesn’t want to be disturbed.

Proximity’s Clean Sweep

They’re obviously doing things right in Spain these days. CP Comunicacion Proximity has achieved a marketing milestone: Not only did it win the Diamond Echo from the Direct Marketing Association for the past two years, but it also took home last week’s top Caples award . Judges continue to remark on the risks that international agencies are taking, and the results are backing them up. Proximity CEO Pablo Alzugaray and his staff deserve a round of applause. Hey, U.S. agencies, someone has stolen your place in the spotlight. What’s it going to take to get it back?

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