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Direct Marketing Returns on Advertising

If Randy Nueman has it right and it never rains in Southern California, how is it that Kasi, our lovable but dreadfully IQ-challenged golden retriever, was pummeled with hail the size of grapefruits today as she bolted out the back door in her never-ending pursuit of the fun-loving squirrels who frolic in the poplar trees in our backyard? LA doesn’t know from weather. A little healthy rain here and the freeways instantly turn into mind numbing cement corridors of accident-packed parking lots (their natural state on 9 out of 10 weekdays in any case).

But la la land as well as the rest of the country has been experiencing a blizzard of yet another kind in recent years that should be a concern to all of us involved in the communications industry — sales messages are pounding the public these days like a mid-winter Siberian snow storm. Advertising, marketing and PR messages targeting the overwhelmed minds of their publics are pouring out of magazines, newspapers, radio, television, movie theaters, buses, billboards, signs, benches, posters, shirts, jackets, shoes, blimps, sporting events, and good old direct mail like a shaken champagne bottle at a wedding.

Not the mention the e world, where Americans now spend 10% of their media time. Despite some doomsday hype to the contrary, the Dot Com debacle of 2000 has not turned off the growth of on line advertising. According to Iconocast’s recently published year end marketing report, $7 billion was spent in on line advertising in 2000 and that figure is projected to quadruple to $28 billion by 2005.

The report goes on to note that, by 2005, Internet users will be besieged with 3000 advertising messages every single day — about 1,000 on line and 2,000 off line. Assuming 16 hours of ear and eyeballs per day, that’s 3 ads a minute ALL DAY LONG. Outer space anyone?

This pounding is taking its toll. Both traditional and on line response rates have fallen like a rock off a tall building and are currently hovering below a half a percent. Direct mail response rates have fallen to .40% and click through rates are sharing a same basement apartment at .44%

Where’s Superman when you need him?

Some are calling for bigger ads. Yeah, well, maybe… in the short run. But the real answer to poor response rates is surveyed and positioned messages that parallel the minds of the targeted public. It takes a person about 1/4 of a second to decide whether or not to read an offering or trash it. If you have already found out what he or she considers valuable, you’re way ahead of the game (and head and shoulders above these response rates that are driving customer acquisition costs to the moon, Alice, to the Moon!). But, of course, we’re biased. Finding out what a particular public needs and wants and considers valuable is what we’ve been doing for the last decade and a half. If you need surveys done, call us.

Clark Kent by any other name…