Gunslingers, Samurai, and Direct Marketing Agencies

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Direct mail marketing and the Internet have been known to give shrewd retailers fits of frustration, send keen industrial marketers off to chew their pencils, and inspire general advertising agencies to design extra-cutesy space ads that are later folded and stuffed into an envelope, or splashed onto a screen.

All you have to do is hire a dependable direct marketing agency and, like latter-day gunslingers and samurai, they will guard you on the search for treasure, right?

Well… Maybe

A direct marketing agency is a tool for you to use, one that can think for itself, but one that has to be directed by you. Do you know what you really want? What are your priorities? Do you know what to look for? Can you make sound judgments about recommendations? What do you expect from a direct marketing agency?

Direct marketing, like the Internet, is hot right now. People who don't know their ass from a URL are clambering onboard claiming great expertise.

The first clue you have such a group on your hands will be when their initial presentation features a man with 64 teeth accompanied by a glamorous young woman. They are from a general ad agency trying to crawl out of the scum into the sunshine of the fast lane. If you have the feeling I am disrespectful of general ad agencies, you are perceptive. I've seen more damage done by their unethical grasp for fast profits than one can imagine. Beware.

THE RESPONSIBILITY IS ALWAYS YOURS

Yes, you should delegate, but never forget your responsibility to acquire your own direct marketing expertise.

Learning how to "learn direct marketing" may seem difficult at first. Direct marketing in all media is 90% instincts and 10% facts. Your direct marketing agency will take care of the details, but your sales thinking must be part of the strategy. And of course your agency will help in every way possible, but the more you learn, the more you will accomplish.

Being Your Own Expert Is Always Best

You will still turn to others for detailed assistance but first-hand expertise gives you the reins of management. Hone your instincts. The more you know about direct marketing the more you will realize that this is an "instinct" business.

So where do you go for your education?

Everywhere you can.

Direct marketing may be one of the last informally taught major professions in the nation. We are all autodidacts, relying at first on our sales instincts, and later on acquired details. Learning on the job, reading, attending seminars, or simply through button-hole meetings is the way it's done.

We strongly recommend you attend direct marketing club meetings and conferences. Read the trade journals, though at first these publications may give you a bad case of too-many-alternatives. Attend the introductory seminars offered by the Direct Marketing Association or the American Management Association and learn the buzzwords, the priorities, and what makes us tick.

We are after all, a priesthood. We have a fearsome language. We routinely hold ritual gatherings, read entrails of the dead, analyze through numerology, and our ranks are full of resident prophets and savants.

All of US Continue Our Education in Direct Marketing

Every day brings us a new learning opportunity. Every day calls for new solutions, greater insights, and fresh ways to reach the public's attention. This brings us to a good way to evaluate a potential agency.

Never hire people who look bored. Anyone who is bored by direct mail or the Internet either does not understand them, or is in need of psychiatric care.

Once you have a direct marketing agency, give them latitude to create imaginative solutions. Let them draw their swords and lead you up the hill to success. But it would be wise for you to run ahead on occasion to look at their eyes.

DO THEY SEE THE SAME THINGS YOU SEE?

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