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John Greco on happiness, respect, and word of mouth

I asked a few simple questions to a bunch of smart marketers.

Enjoy this great answer from John Greco, President & CEO, Direct Marketing Association.

Great marketing comes down to one simple idea: Earn the respect and recommendation of your customers, and they will do the rest. What is your advice for any company that wants to …

1 … make people happy?

Good prices and positive prior experience are proven methods for making customers happy. Today, I think being relevant to people’s needs is just as important and perhaps more so. Research tells us again and again that consumers respond favorably when you offer them communications that are relevant to their specific needs and interests, especially when you can do it at exactly the right moment. Timing marketing offers is becoming critical to pleasing today’s customers, donors and prospects because they’re leading increasingly busy lives, and the competition for their attention has never been more intense.

Once you have their attention, convenience is another major league people-pleaser in today’s busy world. Different product or service groups require different strategies for pleasing customers, and different marketing communications channels do, too. Here again, timing is very important. DMA recently conducted consumer research into what types of direct marketing offers people currently receive and how they respond to them, and we were surprised to learn that “not the right time” was slightly more important than “lack of relevance” as the reason to decline a direct offer.

2 … earn respect?

The only way to start earning anyone’s respect is by treating he or she with respect, starting with respecting his or her interests and time restraints, as just noted. People appreciate and respect responsible treatment from marketers who have the offers they value and the services they like. They expect that their preferences will be honored and their privacy will be protected. They do not want to be bombarded with clutter. Direct marketers have a tremendous opportunity to earn this respect — by tailoring relevant communications that are available when, where and how people want to receive them.

Today it is easier than ever for customers to get information and make purchases, with many options readily available — over the phone, by mail, in the store, and especially online. Trust is more essential than ever for both sellers and buyers. DMA’s Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice help maintain that trust with 53 separate articles setting industry requirements for fair and honest advertising, marketing to children, use of marketing data, e-mail marketing, teleservices and fundraising. For more information, please visit

3 … get a word of mouth recommendation?

I believe that to foster word of mouth recommendations, marketers must have access to the best mix of all the available marketing channels available to them. The direct interaction that takes place in any channel, whether it’s a letter, an e-mail, a catalog or a website gives an immediacy and responsiveness to a marketing offer that people really appreciate when it produces superior results for them. That’s something they’re very likely to tell others about.

To achieve this, DMA strives to create the most attractive market space we can for all the buyers and all the sellers who participate across the entire direct marketing process: the businesses and nonprofits using direct marketing, along with the professionals who help them do it; the people and institutions making public policy, from local officials and state legislators to federal regulators, Congress and the White House; and third, the customers, donors and prospects themselves.

After all, once a shopkeeper with 50 primary customers could count on several to spread the word, based on a satisfying personal relationship. But with the coming of the Internet and the expansion of global markets, marketers are faced with trying to understand and relate to 50 million customers or more. Direct marketing is the process that enables this exchange of information between marketer and consumer, providing lower costs and efficiencies for both. While direct marketing has changed, the fundamentals remain the same — tailoring content for good prospects, testing and tracking effectiveness, generating immediate, measurable results, and building lasting personal connections with customers — who will ultimately deliver the word of mouth recommendations and fulfill this one great idea.

Thanks, John!

Read all the answers.

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