Like most of you, my weeks are jam-packed, so when Saturday morning rolls around, I won't say no to a few extra hours of sleep. However, this past Saturday the telephone on my bedside table started jangling at 9:02 a.m.
As I fumbled for the receiver, my mind ran through its morbid checklist of wondering which family member had just suffered a tragic accident or other disaster that needed my attention. It turns out that it was just a call from "Heather," a friendly sounding customer rep alerting me that she was calling about my credit card account. Actually, Heather wasn't necessarily calling me, since she was just a recording, nor was she calling about any of my existing credit card accounts. Instead, she wanted me to be aware of my eligibility to sign up for the credit card that her shadowy lending organization felt necessary to tell me about via telephone on my only morning off.
While my first urge was to see how many separate pieces my telephone handset could convert to if I bounced it off my bedroom wall, I patiently waited for an opt-out option (fat chance!) so I could make the annoying telemarketers go away. After hanging up, I decided my time would be better spent "stewing" about just how damn annoying it was to be treated like this by anyone who really thought they wanted to do business with me.
I'm going to guess that I'm not the guy they were looking to talk to anyway. I have a single credit card that I keep around for emergencies and keep the balance paid off. I don't buy anything through my telephone and I really don't respond well to being treated like I'm a demented mouth-breather by people claiming to want my business.
I have little doubt that any of these considerations will prevent Heather and her ilk from calling me again real soon.
In the digital realm that we all share, we see plenty of examples of horribly poor campaign planning that is based on antiquated models that are disrespectful to consumers, interrupt them, and are often so irrelevant that it's hard to find a reason why that consumer would ever need to do business with the advertiser. But, as we all know, knowing that there is a problem is the first step to solving that problem.
Here are a few thoughts to share:
Effective audience targeting today is based on a lot of data, feedback loops, and powerful platforms that work to get the right message in front of the right consumer at the right time. But before it ever gets to that point, there needs to be a concerted effort to make sure that the ad creative, concepts, and marketing goals are all based on a solid understanding of what happens after you get a consumer to join the conversation. In most cases, you're only going to have one chance to do it right.
By the way, asking Heather to make the call on your behalf probably isn't your best option.
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Rob Graham is the CCT (chief creative technologist) of Trainingcraft, Inc., where he heads up development of customized training programs for a wide range of digital marketing, entrepreneurial development, and digital media clients.
A 20 year veteran of digital media, Rob has served as the CEO of a multimedia development company; an interactive media strategist; a rich media production specialist; a Web analytics consultant; a corporate trainer and seminar leader; and a chief marketing officer.
When he isn't on the road presenting training workshops, Rob teaches at Harvard University, Emerson College, and the University of Massachusetts - Lowell where he teaches classes on Digital Media Development, Web Store Creation, Software Programming, Business Strategies, and Interactive Marketing Best Practices.
He is the author of "Fishing From a Barrel," a guide to using audience targeting in online advertising, and "Advertising Interactively," which explores the development and uses of rich-media-based advertising. He has been an industry columnist covering interactive marketing, digital media, and audience targeting topics since 1999.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT