I've noticed a few telemarketing companies have started to brand themselves as an "ethical telemarketing company".Posted by: David Regler @
As soon as I saw that I just knew that we're in trouble :-)
I mean, how bad has an industry got to get before your main point of differentiation is that you're "ethical".
Maybe I'm old fashioned but I start from the principal that you should be ethical in business full-stop, not just for the purpose of marketing spin.
It's not just telemarketing either. I recently read a report that said many players in the email marketing business have started to position themselves as the "best practice" specialists.
Best practice? Surely applying best practice should be a fundamental principal of any marketing agency?
Of course, what we're seeing here is what happens to any marketing medium that gets abused.
Go on YouTube and search for telemarketing and you'll see hundreds of videos showing recordings of idiot telemarketers being abused by the general public (all good fun). In B2C telemarketing they effectively broke their own market by over-use, to the point that they are now locked out by TPS and "Do Not Call" registers.
Email's going the same way. If the latest advances in anti-SPAM software doesn't kill it then you can bet some legislation is heading our way.
Can you remember when faxes came out? You'd get into the office in the morning and there'd be a mile of fax paper on the floor. That's why we got the FPS.
Direct marketers love cheap a marketing medium.
Getting back to the point about "ethical telemarketing", to me, I think it's just marketing spin.
There are good and bad companies in any industry. Over time, the good ones grow and the bad ones disappear. Telemarketing, as with email marketing, is one of those areas that is in demand and can be set up with very little overhead (just a phone in the case of telemarketing).
There are clear regulations which should be adhered to in different markets (such as the CTPS register in business-to-business) and I would suggest that most (if not all) telemarketing agencies already do that.
Despite all what I've said about abuse of cheap medium, there will still be a place for telemarketing or telesales. It'll be niche, highly targeted, and integrated with a multi-channel approach that links opt-in lists, email and other web services, but there'll still be a need to speak with prospects.
Can you remember "junk mail"? How much mail do you get through the post now? But guess what, there are still plenty of B2B DM agencies pulling good responses with highly targeted and personalised campaigns.
At the end of the day, ethics are more about the people you're dealing with. And the people who are making the calls on behalf of your company.
Personally, in my experience, when someone feels that they need to tell you they're ethical - it usually means that they're not.