INTEGRATED: ALL YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT...Telemarketing (in association with royal mail)

How can clients compare costs in the telemarketing field? Robert Dwek alerts agencies to some pitfalls

How can clients compare costs in the telemarketing field? Robert Dwek

alerts agencies to some pitfalls

In the good old days, everyone knew their place. Ad agencies were top

dog and told the other agencies what was what.

Telemarketing agencies were the lowest of the low, the quintessence of

all that was unglamorous about marketing. If they had to be used at all,

at least they could be depended upon not to answer back.

How things have changed. The telephone is king in the 90s marketing

jungle, and must be accorded due respect.

It’s best to remember this when you are fuming over the apparent

impossibility of comparing costs among telemarketing bureaux or puzzling

about how to persuade a bureau to hit or exceed targets.

Michael Hope, whose Michael Hope Partnership acts as a bridge between

perplexed clients and besieged bureaux, agrees that comparing costs is a

nightmare: ‘We put out campaign briefs all the time and there’s no

commonality in the responses we get.’

He thinks the Direct Marketing Association should step in to help

clarify the situation, or else one of the larger bureaux should take a


But, in the meantime, the client will simply have to be aware of

differences between the bureaux and should write the brief less in terms

of what they want and more in terms of what that particular bureau can


Hope also suggests that clients discuss their needs with a bureau before

sending a more formal brief. ‘A lot of bureaux prefer it this way,’ he

points out. ‘They may even assist you in writing the brief.’

An alternative would be to go to a middleman such as MHP or the L&R

Group, which should be able to steer you in the right direction.

As for incentives, this need not be a problem since telemarketing is a

fairly transparent technique. The results are there for all to see, but

it is up to the client to make it crystal clear from the outset what

exactly is wanted and how the bureau will be rewarded.

Some bureaux prefer to stick to a standard rate for the job but others

will take a more enterprising approach and strike a deal which gives

them a percentage of the order value.

This approach is particularly effective if the bureau is in a position

to cross-sell or up-sell products on your behalf.

Above all, though, you must treat telemarketing on its own merits,

rather than as just another boring but necessary bit of below the line.

Andy McInally, the sales director at the leading bureau, Brann, believes

many clients have yet to appreciate this fact. ‘The problem,’ he says,

‘is that the marketplace at the moment wants to buy telemarketing in the

same way as it buys print advertising. But it’s not the same thing at


‘Telemarketing is an interactive process with the customer base,

designed to move the customer on to another stage in the sales process,

and this can involve a lot of fairly intangible things - response times,

for example.

Incentives must take account of this.’

Facts and figures

Major telemarketing bureaux are: Connections In Business (part of BT),

Brann, Merit Direct, Decisions, Readycall, ICD

Bureaux focusing on fully automated services (ie, computerised voices

rather than live ones) include: Broadsystems, IMS, TIS

Call centres - specific departments set up to deal exclusively with

tele-marketing - are a rapidly growing phenomenon in the UK. Some pounds

75 million was spent on them in 1994. They can be operated by the client

itself or, increasingly, by a bureau on the client’s behalf.

Telemarketing is now reckoned to account for pounds 1 billion worth of

phone calls annually. More than pounds 10 million-worth of these calls

are made each week, an increase of more than 20 per cent a year. The

turnover of the top 40 telemarketing bureaux increased by 69 per cent to

pounds 130 million in 1995.