Grant Leboff: One of the things I know you’re interested in, which interests me as well, is this idea of traditional direct marketers and direct marketing and how that’s being translated now into the online world and, perhaps, some of the companies that are using strategies and tactics, in different and the same ways, and we can learn from others in history. Tell me a bit more about what you’ve looked at.
Steve Barton: Absolutely I’ll argue that the people who started Amazon, the people who started eBay, these are new pioneers of direct marketing more than they are online people. Let me give you an example, there is a direct marketing hall of fame in America – only in America, we have lot of halls of fame! – and you have a list of people who did great things in direct marketing that nobody really heard of. The person who invented Yellow Pages and Directories, Regression Analysis, and all sorts of interesting direct marketing terms that are seen as hackneyed or faded glory techniques.
Well the reality is, they’re being revived, but they’re being applied in new ways, new medium. So for example, a directory is helping people find what they need, well what is that if not Google? It’s a better way of getting what you need. Or the guy who invents the catalogue, he’s finding a new way for farmers in Iowa to buy products more easily than having to drive four hours. What is eBay or Amazon if not a revolution in selling? And then within that you have application of tactics to improve targeting, things that direct marketers will recognise but there sort of being reinvented but I think at the heart of that are some of these insights that drove those techniques.
Grant Leboff: So from a business point of view, sitting here watch this today, what are a couple of the insights that businesses should be learning from the direct marketers of old, and you’re seeing being applied on sites such as Google or Amazon or eBay that people could be using in their own businesses, perhaps not difficult to use but are perhaps unaware of, that could really help them in their own communications?
Steve Barton: Targeting, but targeting in a different way. I think when you say targeting people kind of get it, they say I got to find people who are more likely to use my product, but get behind that and given the depth of targeting. Direct marketers for example look for inexpensive ways of targeting people and sometimes in direct response TV that meant showing an ad at 2.30 at night, not because you have the biggest numbers of people watching, but because you could achieve the greatest number of people at the lowest cost per media. So innovative methods of targeting to find people, would be an application of a direct marketing methodology, if you want to use fancy words.
Grant Leboff: That’s interesting because I say to people; one of the questions you should be asking online, – and people don’t ask this – is where do my customers learn?
Steve Barton: Yeh.
Grant Leboff: In other words, where do my customers hang out? If you’re targeting midwives do they go to the Royal College of Midwives site? Or if it’s lawyers, do they use the Law Society site? Or is it a Chambers of Commerce site? Where do they learn?
And perhaps these are the places they should be, because I think people now are obsessed with their own website, and their own YouTube channel, and their own real estate, and that’s all great, no one is saying you shouldn’t have those, but actually starting to look at the other places you should be, which is something that Direct Marketers always did, didn’t they?
Steve Barton: Thinking through the mind-set. I would agree with that completely, but I would add to it, think through not only where would they for their information, but the mindset when they’re there, and when. For example, agencies are always obsessed with getting clients to look at their websites and look at their information. What they don’t realise is the most trafficked times for the new business websites is actually Sunday afternoons, because that’s when the marketing directors have time off from all the calls they’re getting from all the new business companies to actually have a moment of quiet and peace to look at the different agencies on those websites. And I think if you understand that, then you can start mapping out and targeting the right moments, not just the right sites.
Grant Leboff: There’s just one other thing I’d be interested to get some insights on is, if we talk about marketing, we can learn that from traditional direct marketing and how it’s being applied online today. One of the things I’ve been interested in because it was always a good skill set of direct marketers, is the messaging itself. So it wasn’t just the targeting was good but they seem to be able and understand and think through the customer’s eyes and get the messaging right. How do you see that being translated online? Who’s doing it well? How can people do that better?
Steve Barton: Well behavioural targeting online is one of the more interesting examples where you’ll get ads serves up to you on Facebook or on websites, and suddenly it reflects what you’ve been looking at. I was looking at vacuum cleaners and suddenly I’m getting lots of ads for vacuum cleaners in my Facebook site and I’m feeling a complete loser! But you can see how you’re tracked and then they’ll push those ads up. And that’s makes a lot of sense. It’s very relevant isn’t it, because you’re thinking about it, you’re searching for it and actually you wouldn’t mind – you don’t mind – getting an ad about it, provided its relevant and it’s got new information you’d find useful. But I think it’s a beautiful marriage of technology and the insight of the right message at the right time
Grant Leboff: Thank you
There may be small changes to the spoken word in this transcript in order to facilitate the readability of the written English