By Dale Filhaber
Summary: As the new national Do-Not-Call Registry takes effect this month (on Oct. 1, to be exact), water treatment dealers as well as other business marketers will need to make significant changes to their outbound selling programs.
It’s estimated that eventually there will be 60-plus million numbers on the federal Do-Not-Call (DNC) Registry. This represents approximately 30 percent of the 210-plus million available telephone numbers in the United States. This list is much more comprehensive than the state do-not-call lists, which were limited to 27 states and had marginal sign-ups because of fees and lack of publicity. Additionally, the federal list closes some of the existing loopholes in the state laws such as lack of interstate jurisdiction.
Even though the federal DNC Registry takes effect on Oct. 1, there are still several remaining unanswered questions including state pre-emption, the definition of pre-existing relationships, interstate vs. intrastate calling, handling independent offshore telecenters, and the exempted industries such as charities, political candidates and insurance companies.
Keep a good thing going
While marketers are working out contingency plans, it’s vital that each water treatment dealer plans ahead now and assesses his/her current marketing practices. First of all, dealers who’ve had success with telephone marketing and appointment setting should continue to use that form of outreach. Stay the course. Ultimately, dealers will find the number of prospects available to them has dropped by about a third. That means the remaining records become more important than ever before and need to be reached in a more professional manner with more robust offers.
Telemarketing rooms will either become more efficient or they will close up shop. Each water dealer needs to examine their staff to ensure only the best marketers are working the phones. Scripts need to be tightened up and targeted at specific market groups. In the water treatment industry, key target groups include new homeowners, new parents, homeowners with children, and ailment sufferers. Separate scripts must be developed for each category to ensure that telemarketing investments are well spent. And opt-out rules need to be more strictly observed and handled more professionally than ever.
Phone room managers will need to provide their staff with verbiage designed to deal with consumers who may react negatively to receiving calls after registering for the list. Consumers may not understand the distribution schedule of the DNC list or the types of calls allowed by exemption.
List management will become vital as marketers strive to keep track of the federal DNC list as well as in-house suppression files. Date prospect files when they’re received to keep them current. Keep customer sale dates accurate to take advantage of established business relationship exemptions.
Up-selling current customers will become more prevalent. Currently, two-thirds of the $17 billion business-to-consumer outbound segment is targeted at consumers with a prior relationship with a marketer. Nearly all of this telemarketing would be allowed under the new rules. Marketers need to take advantage of enhancements that can be made to their list including adding age, income, homeownership, presence of children, and other data to their current files so they can take advantage of cross-selling options.
Over the next year, an estimated $6 billion is likely to move from telemar-keting to other channels such as direct mail, traditional and online media. Most funds will move to direct mail. Water dealers will need to consider using targeted postcards to reach new prospects. Consider a postcard directed to home-owners with children, referencing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report about lead-tainted tap water and how water filtration can reduce the risk of childhood lead poisoning. Or, utilize statistics culled from newspapers, magazines or responsible government agencies outlining the potentially harmful contaminants or chemicals used in a given market.
A meaningful offer will become more important. Think about using premiums and add-ons. Use unique shapes to enhance response. Test your lists, be creative, and offer to find the one that works best. Significant dollars will funnel toward interactive media. Each dealer needs to invest in a website and work toward enhancing its search rankings. While email marketing may look like a great idea–despite concerns with spam–unfortunately, the independent or franchise water dealer might not be able to take advantage of such methods because of availability in the local market, cost and industry minimums.
There’s no question that the fourth quarter of this year will be a real learning experience for marketers, suppliers and consumers as we rethink, relearn and refine a responsive marketing mix. For more information about compliance to the FTC Telemarketing Sales Rules, visit www.the-dma.org/guidelines/tsr.pdf.
About the author
Dale Filhaber is president of Dataman, a marketing consultancy that specializes in group direct mail and telemarketing lists. Based in Boca Raton, Fla., Filhaber can be reached at (800) 771-3282, email: dale@ datamangroup.com or website: www. dataman group.com.