Is Cold Calling Dead?

In PPC, SEO, Social Media, Strategy on September 4, 2009 at 1:02 am

world-wide-web.jpgFor many years we in business have sharpened our skills and tactics for going out and finding customers. We work hard to impress them (embed our brand) so when they are ready to buy, they remember us and purchase our product or service. Most of us are pretty good at HUNTING for customers. But by the time we pay the gatekeepers (the Media Barons who control access to the highly sought eyeballs) and all of the costs to distribute materials, we end up investing a lot of dollars in the name of marketing. In a “Mass Media Market” that’s the best we have available to us. We SPEND, HUNT and HOPE (they remember us when it comes time to buy). No wonder the Finance guys hate marketing!

Things have changed in the past 2 years. So much so, those same Finance guys are going to love the new marketer. Web 2.0 has combined with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and PPC (Pay Per Click Advertising) tactics to create a whole new marketing mindset. A new context if you will. Today, when a customer wants to buy, are they just as likely to Google words and phrases that suit what they are looking for? Are they open to suggestions from Social media sites and recommendations from their peers? In most cases they will find what they are looking for on the first page of the search results, or at least have their short list? How easily can you BE FOUND when your prospects are looking to buy? Are you making extra effort to BE HUNTED online? Have you adjusted your marketing thinking to suit the market? We call this eMarketing Management – a blend of strong, integrated strategy and aggressive online tactics. Most marketers are approaching emarketing from a mass media context and are left wondering why the online communities are not responding. For example, we think that placing banner ads on busy sites should bring results. That is merely an extension of mass marketing tactics. There are better ways to engage with the World Wide Web and the millions of INDIVIDUALS who are online.

We have also seen a rapid decline in response to telemarketing – no matter the tactics used. It seems that we used to accept some cold calls just in case we might need that service or product in the foreseeable future. We would take the call, ask questions, understand the key issues and file the information away so we could lay our hands on it when we need it. In 2007 Marketing Sherpa published a study that revealed that 83% of business purchases were found online. Not all purchased online, but sourced and researched. So now we know that whatever we want we can Google it and find everything we need to know quickly and relatively painlessly. There is no need to entertain cold calls that have nothing to do with the priorities that dominate us today. So cold calling dies. The only thing that kept it alive was it always produced just enough to justify the investment. Not any more.

It is far less expensive to set our products and services up to be easily found when our prospects are searching for them. But we have to make the mental shift from marketing in a mass media world and mastering our HUNTING skills, to interacting with millions of individuals and learning to BE HUNTED. Learning to make ourselves easy to be found. And make no mistake – it is a completely different context.

As consumers change their habits, we have to adjust our efforts to reach them effectively. There’s a great example of context shaping actions – from a mass marketing world that is exactly what we would do – REACH OUR CUSTOMER EFFECTIVELY. In this Internet based world, we want to listen, engage and have a conversation with people who are interested in what we produce. new context allows for new actions. New actions have the possibility of new results. And the early indications are impressive. We are working smarter instead of harder and producing unprecedented results using:
An eMarketing Planning Process
Competitive Online Research
In-depth Site Analysis / Audit
Pay Per Click Campaign Management
Search Engine Optimization
Link Building & Exchanges
Blog Marketing
Content Writing

Social Media Marketing
Code Restructuring
Bots / Texts / Sitemaps
E-Mail Marketing Campaigns
And More…

  1. The answer to the question depends on who you speak to. The notion that people should cease using the telephone to speak with people and organisations that interest them at a business level is nonsense. If you believe you’ve something to communicate to a particular person or organisation, are you going to wait until they come to you? No. People that think in terms of pure dichotomy (i.e. black OR white, all OR nothing) are those that fail to grasp the importance of the marketing mix: Test all the elements / channels of marketing that could work and then choose to maximise the effort and investment in the top three or four channels that work the best for you. People are saying that paid printed advertising generates no return, and neither does direct mail or cold calls or whatever… and on and on, and that everything must transfer to the internet. The advance of the internet makes a different mindset possible with the emphasis on “being found”. There is no denying this. To say that something is ‘dead’ on the basis of one set of statistics is inconclusive and dangerous. People still buy people in a lot of industries first and foremost and to suggest that ‘being found’ is THE way to make profitable sales is rubbish. Only yesterday, a web services company called me and stated that the phone and email were two of his most successful marketing methods, and he offers SEO / PPC and other web marketing services! Go figure…

    • Thanks Shaun
      You are correct about Black and White. The reason I used such strong terminology was what we are experiencing today. It is taking much more effort (therefore cost) to get a call returned. In the past a business person might have accepted a cold call “just in case they might need that product/service in the near term”. They would find out about the product and keep information (literature) on file. In the Google Era, they know that whatever they need they can find it via one of the search engines online, so we have noticed that they are not as likely to respond. And most of the “literature is now websites and PDFs (delivered digitally). The only thing that we kept cold calling in the marketing mix was the fact that it produced a reasonable ROI, relative to all other options for a marketer or a sales manager. We have several clients who have reduced their cost per lead from $2,000+ (when accounting for their advertising, direct mail and cold calling) to under $35 using sound eMarketing strategies! When the Finance guys understand this… well lets just say “Black and White” might enter the picture. We think the shift will be faster than many of us might have guessed, especially if these difficult economic times continue. Necessity is forcing change. I had the opportunity to choose cold calling as our future. I chose emarketing for the same reason I believe clients will – lower costs, higher returns and better quality prospects. My commitment is to the result – not the means, but I certainly respect your right to choose something else.

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