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The Evolution of Today’s Telemarketing
By: Tom Roarty
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There was a time not too long ago when you could not escape dinnertime telemarketing calls offering some of the most mundane services. Somehow, they knew just when the whole family sat down to eat before reaching out to their now-captive audience. Thankfully, caller ID, answering machines, and the beloved National Do Not Call list arrived and made it a lot easier to ignore/eliminate these calls. So the sales-generating industry went underground to reinvent itself, emerging as a cleverly disguised, more-acceptable sales form.
 
Last week while celebrating my father’s birthday, I was at my parents' house when the phone rang. Not recognizing the number, they let it go to the machine. The message left was as follows: “Hello Mr. Roarty, This is Chuck from Mitsubishi Motors. We just wanted to wish you a happy birthday today, and we hope you are enjoying yourself. If there is anything we can do for you here, please don’t hesitate to ask.” The message was noninvasive, personable, and, above all, sincere sounding. Immediately after listening to it my mother commented as to how nice it was that they called. How is it, though, that they did not pick up on the fact that what they just witnessed was a sales call?
 
As subtle and short as the message was, the call had more than enough time to lower the recipient's guard, get the company name on their mind, offer an open dialogue to any potential needs the customer may have and, of course, establish a feeling of trust through the sincerity of the message. From a marketing aspect, the approach was nearly flawless. Mitsubishi found a way around the Do Not Call List and past caller ID to get their message out there all within three sentences. 
 
Having worked in a call center while in high school and later as a scriptwriter for a telemarketing company, I couldn’t help but be impressed with the way Mitsubishi packaged its message. What killed the media was not necessarily the inconvenience of the calls, but the insincerity of the messages that were being given. Toward the end of the telemarketing frenzy, sales reps would push their product rather than present it. Having your family time interrupted to be told that “your house could catch fire if you don’t get your chimney cleaned, which could be done for $400 if you committed right now,” stressed people out and did nothing for brand loyalty.
 
Would the masses be open to a new telemarketing tactic as more people get access to your personal information? Only time will tell, but I believe there will be a lot more tolerance for scripts that address a client with a personal message followed by an underlining sales pitch. It is not that we don’t need a tune-up or our chimneys cleaned — we just want it to be our idea. As for my dad, he came to the realization after hearing the message that he needed his oil changed and the next day made an appointment with the dealer to get it done…proving that telemarketing isn’t dead, it's just evolving.


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