Talking to your customers is always a good thing, and at the moment telemarketing seems to work very well for many publishers—but be careful as you can overstay your welcome.
Avoid the temptation to ask your customers everything in one go. This will confuse some, annoy others and may result in an order not being completed. This is true for both paid and controlled publications, but for different reasons. If someone is receiving a magazine free of charge it is reasonable to elicit some information from him or her; this is the reason they are getting the magazine free, after all.
However, if you ask too many questions it may result in a firm but call-ending hang up. Ask the subscriber if you can send a follow up email with some more questions that it would be useful “for us to know, so that we can serve you better.” If they say yes, the telemarketing company can probably send the email out straight away.
If the person you are calling has paid for a subscription, be careful when asking for information. Many subscribers feel paying for a subscription also pays for their privacy. However, people are also very flattered when you seek their advice or opinion, so how you phrase your question can be the difference between getting the information you want and the aforementioned call-ending hang-up. Flattery is almost always a good thing.
When choosing a telemarketing company, take time to review the references you got from them. Talk to people in the industry to see if they have an opinion. The company you choose is going to represent you in a one-to-one conversation with either your subscribers or prospects—this will reflect on your company so choose wisely.
There are very few methods of promotion where we have direct interaction with our customers or prospects. Telemarketing is one, and you only get one chance to make a good first impression—do not let price be the only factor that dictates your decision. There will always be at least one caller who complains, that is normal. If you are conducting a large program, probably more than one complaint will be received. Calmly call the account manager at the telemarketing company, have them review the call with you and make a decision together on how to resolve any issues.
If you are prospecting for new orders, review the results the telemarketing company sends each day and after a few days of calling, prioritize the calling so that you can get the maximum number of orders for the least amount of money—especially if paying by the hour. Ensure you key each list correctly and that you do measure like for like. Comparing a list that has a 30 percent conversion with 5,000 names called cannot really be compared to a list that has a 10 percent conversion but only 1,000 names called. Many a bad decision has been made on too little information.
For many years, telemarketing was considered the “bad boy” of circulation. Nobody really wanted it on his or her Publisher’s Statement. Now, just like black coffee, eggs, chocolate and red wine—all in moderation, course—telemarketing has a good reputation and can be a splendid source of circulation and revenue for publishers.
Roy Beagley is Director of Publishing Services for Tyson Associates Inc. Roy started his career at The Economist and then The Spectator in London. He moved to the United States in 1992 and since then he has worked with Tyson Associates handling many controlled and consumer publications. He is editor of Circspot.com, a website for circulation and audience development professionals.