Two shoe salesmen are on a desert island to check out the
One sends back a message: ’No opportunities here, no-one wears shoes.’
The other: ’Great opportunity, no-one wears shoes.’ Which are you?
Most ad agency planners appear to be in the former camp. Not for them
the challenge of a new market. But for those who get their kicks from
understanding and changing people’s behaviour and who like the idea of
going where no focus group has gone before, perhaps it’s time to
consider a real opportunity: direct response.
The development, ownership and use of database marketing is now a
necessity for most companies. Databases provide knowledge, knowledge
provides power, and power provides profit. Simple.
Databases are providing the opportunity to communicate not with ’ABC1s’
but with refined consumer segments who have similar behaviour and
attitudes as proven by their actions. But hard data needs interpretation
by consumer specialists - planners.
The traditional focus on response is evolving to encompass awareness and
brand development. The idea that brand advertising cannot incorporate a
definitive call to action is dead. Building brands by direct response is
not the exception but the rule. And brand building needs specialists -
Direct response is also moving from being a tactical to a strategic
tool, which means it needs strategists who understand and can help
formulate marketing plans and business strategies - planners again.
The volume of direct response advertising means that to create impact
demands the same level of creative excellence that any above-the-line
execution requires. A key requirement, therefore, is people to write,
refine or hone the brief.
And yet, because of its heritage, the industry has few ’home grown’
Whether as consumer conscience, brand developer, marketing strategist or
creative planner, the direct response industry is crying out for quality
But there’s a catch. There are few rules in planning below the line;
it’s too new. There’s no tried and tested corporate structure that can
hide the mediocre.
Planning below the line is, therefore, only for people who like the
challenge of being at the beginning of something, where they can either
make an immediate impact on their business - or else.
Given this, why is it that most above-the-line planners would rather
work for the Tory party in Scotland than come below the line? Do they
still see it as the dirty side of the business? Is it that they simply
don’t know the opportunities that exist? Is it that they’re afraid of
having to define planning from scratch?
Or are they’re afraid to offer insights and put themselves on the line
in an accountable environment?
Tod Norman is a planner at Barraclough Hall Woolston Gray.