Tuesday, 17 July, 2007

Demented Dialogue

Prospective Client: What databases can you get me? I have a 5,000-seater call centre, which I’m ramping up to 7,500 next week, and 10,000 by the end of the month. I need to give the girls and boys leads to call up.

Anxious Agency Executive: We do five loyalty programmes, for X, Y and Z… and P and Q. That should give you, let’s see… X has 1½ lakh ‘active’ members, Y has 3,000 members, we have some 2,000 odd in P…

PC: Thousands and all my people will finish in a day. I need lakhs.

AAE: I’m afraid then you’ll have to advertise.

PC: Why am I talking to you then? Ultimately, that’s what you guys bring to the table.

AAE: We could help in taking forward the communication with the people who respond to the ads.

PC: So what will you do? All you guys want to do is mailers. That my ad agency can also do. But who has time to read these days. I throw away everything I get. Honestly, when was the last time you read something? Only copywriters read what they write. In India, nobody reads.

AAE: What about your own database? Surely you have a house list, now that you have been in this market for a couple of years.

PC: That you don’t worry about. Tell me what lists you have? Actually, you guys have got your priorities all wrong. Some agencies have understood databases and focussed there. You people just want to do mailers. I’m telling you mailers are dead. Just call and sell.

AAE: You mean you can sell your complicated B2B/financial/health/whatever product over the phone? Without reading anything? Or seeing a website?

Incidentally, when was the last time you called the number on your ad? I called a fortnight ago. It took me three calls to get through. And I am yet to receive the brochure I requested for.

And who told you that direct marketing agencies do lists anywhere? Lists are a separate business in the West. Do you have any idea how many people you need to maintain lists? Do you ask a film director to make film? Or a doctor to make drugs? So why should a direct marketer bring his own list?

And how many times a list has to be rented to recover costs? Do you think any list in India gets hired often enough to make it worthwhile for the list owner to keep it updated?

And how many lists are stolen and sold every day, to the biggest brands? How shamelessly brand managers boast about having other brands’ lists? And how much it’d cost to run a call centre in a legit way?

PC: Throw out this idiot!

Kahan kahan se chale ate hain…


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