Direct marketing from the heart - Part II


A few tips on building trust


As an organization, you should do whatever it takes to retain your own staff. Build a solid relationship with your marketer and his team, and when he leaves the company make sure the knowledge he has acquired is passed on to his successor.

On the other hand, it's important to retain your existing customers and to develop a long-term relationship with them.

Choosing a channel

Use the different channels for the purpose for which they were designed. Sending an email instead of making a phone call can destroy or at least impair a good relationship. What sounds ok over the phone can sometimes sound pretty bad in writing.


Don't contact your customers just to sell them something. Just calling your customer up to give him some information without any underlying sales motive can build loyalty.

Customers and/or partners

Make sure your customer feels like a partner rather than a customer. As a result, his attitude toward you will also change. Express personal interest in your customer; showing genuine interest in the course of one phone call achieves more than several cold and impersonal contacts. Choose your partners and your suppliers well. A long-term relationship brings only advantages. Developing expertise helps you get a clearer overview of things and facilitates cooperation. And if you have trouble finding partners, there are some good organizations around that can help you, such as the bdma. You should realize, for example, that combining different tools isn't easy for your ICT department, so make sure you maintain excellent relations with these people.


Make sure the marketer you hire has empathy. A marketer who is driven purely by sales and economic motives can't build loyalty in your customers and suppliers.


Estimate how often your customer might want to hear from you. Recognize the signals he sends out and be alert to identify trends.

Opt-in, opt-out

Implement a tiered opt-out. If the customer isn't interested in one of your products, it doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't like your brand. Try to determine which products your customer would like information about. In the case of services or events, remember that the location or the date might not be convenient for the customer. So in any case develop your customer's loyalty by giving him the option of a tiered opt-out.

Transparency and bad news

The abiding fear about transparency in marketing actions is the possibility of an initial low response. Marketers choose not to communicate certain facts in order to get a higher response rate. Remember that customers don't become fans overnight. If you give the consumers all the available information, you can make customers ambassadors for your brand. Marketers, in particular direct marketers, too often give only good news, but if you also give customers the not-so-good news, they will see that you're transparent. This also holds true for your internal relationships within the organization. So also give the board the more lackluster figures, but tell them that improvements can be made.


It's important to analyze your data, but you should also interpret them correctly. For example, you should listen to dissatisfied customers, but it's important to see a complaint in the proper perspective. An unhappy customer in one segment doesn't mean you've done something wrong. Simply resolve the complaint and find out whether it's a one-off event.

The human approach

You can't approach each customer personally, but you shouldn't ignore the data in your database. Adjust your approach and pay proper attention to figures from studies. The reality is often different from what may be suggested by an average figure thrown up by a survey. Show your face on the ground and keep in touch with your customers and your partners. Whenever you communicate, always ask yourself whether you would like to receive this type of message if you were the consumer. If the answer is yes, ask yourself whether the old-fashioned grocer would approach you in that way. If the answer to this second question is yes, go for it!

The customer is always right

A classic example of how to develop loyalty is the approach adopted by Cool Blue. Their general conditions state: "The customer is always right." This is an important starting point for good customer relations, but your communication stance is even more important. This should be based on your customer's interests. Don't talk about what you think is important but rather about what your customer might need.

Some food for thought and the role of marketers

I have something to say that some people may not want to hear. I think it's a pity that people still have to be told this basic information in this day and age. I am surprised that some of my colleagues don't seem to think it's all that important to do direct marketing from the heart, in spite of the fact that this produces better results in the long term. To my mind, there can be no doubt about it.

I often see marketers misapplying the concept of direct marketing, indulging in short-term thinking or falling prey to a sort of innovation fatigue when they're constantly expected to come up with some refreshing, innovative content. When a clothing label regularly sent me fashion tips, I read the newsletter and I was enthusiastic about the brand, but since nowadays they only send me emails to sell me clothes, I've deleted their emails. It's very important to give customers a service that comes from the heart and that respects their data. Ultimately, this is the way to make new fans. This is a word that has become very popular since the advent of the social media, but it's actually a very old concept. Good customers are fans and can become your ambassadors. Businesses and marketers who understand this have a great future ahead of them.

Missed the first part of this article? Click here.