With all the shifts in the market alongside disruptions influenced by technological innovations thereby affecting the way of doing business and customers’ expectations, it seems we have come a long way to what marketing means today. Now, it seems it’s now all about digital marketing. Today’s marketers want to become part of a customer’s life, enriching the latter’s experiences with their brands, to help the customer live their brand. One, arguably, go-to helpful strategy for this was telemarketing. However, there are still businesses that prefer telemarketing, despite the digital marketing imperative. The question we need to answer, therefore, is whether telemarketing is still relevant in today’s digital age or is it about time to retire telemarketing in favor of a total shift to the new strategies in digital marketing.
Marketing in general: offering and exchange
Marketing used to be just “telling and selling.” In today’s sense, in contrast, marketing means satisfying customer needs. Well, there might just be not so much contrast as, in principle, marketing, is about “engaging customers and managing profitable customer relationships.” Both above-mentioned senses are actually in line with marketing’s twofold goal: “to attract new customers by promising superior value and to keep and grow current customers by delivering satisfaction” (Kotler and Armstrong, 2016). Basically, as Kotler and Armstrong would have it (Principles of Marketing, 2016), “if the marketer engages consumers effectively, understands their needs, develops products that provide superior customer value, and prices, distributes, and promotes them well, these products will sell easily.”1
Marketing occurs when people decide to satisfy their needs and wants through exchange relationships. In this context, “exchange is the act of obtaining a desired object from someone by offering something in return. In the broadest sense, the marketer tries to bring about a response to some market offering. The response may be more than simply buying or trading products or services.” Marketing, thus, “consists of actions taken to create, maintain, and grow desirable exchange relationships with target audiences involving a product, service, idea, or other object.”2
The new marketing: customer engagement
The new marketing is customer engagement marketing. This means “fostering direct and continuous customer involvement in shaping brand conversations, brand experiences, and brand community” (Kotler and Keller, 2012). In this sense, customer-engagement marketing goes beyond just selling a brand to consumers. Its goal is to make the brand a meaningful part of consumers’ conversations and lives.”3 The key, then, to today’s marketing is “to find ways to enter consumers’ conversations with engaging and relevant brand messages.”4
Regarding customers in what we have today as the digital age, Philip Kotler, the father of modern marketing, et al. (2017), had some noteworthy observations. “Customers who need more information will search for it and connect with other customers with better knowledge and more experience. Depending on the bias shown during the conversation, the connection either strengthens or weakens the brand’s initial appeal.”5
In connection with this, the new customer journey calls for a new marketing framework, one that drives customers from awareness to advocacy. “When it comes to understanding brands, customers now actively connect with one another, building ask-and-advocate relationships. Netizens, in particular, have very active connections in customer forums.”6 The customer’s decisions, throughout the journey are usually formed by “a combination of their own influence, other’s influence, and outer influence.” The strength of each of the influences is also, in turn, influenced by the different states of digital maturity, different wants and needs in relation to differences in generations, and, basically, different life stages.
Telemarketing: Filling in the gaps in the new framework
Brand perspectives, product information, testimonials, reviews, and even hacks are abundant not only in today’s social media and all over the Internet but also in face-to-face conversations among consumers, whether of the product or service or just consumers of information. The downside to today’s abundance of information is its openness to misinformation and disinformation. These also could easily be amplified by the tweaking of algorithms as social media platforms compete for Internet users’ attention. With the overabundance of information, whether true or otherwise, whether wanted or unsolicited, consumers sometimes long for retreats from digital exposure, or wish they could talk to real persons or access information straight from the source.
On the other side, marketers behind brands face an overabundance of gathered information, of analyzed consumer data, even a segmentation narrowed to a very specific customer persona. If only they could get through all the noise and engage directly with the customer－oh, wait. What if they integrate telemarketing into their strategy? From generated and qualified leads through digital marketing strategies such as making use of social media, chatbots, and email responses, they can now throw in telemarketing into the mix for a more personalized customer engagement.
Telemarketing: Making customer engagement personal
Digital marketing has made it easier (1) to gather target audience information, (2) to come up with more relevant ways of saying what brands want to say through digital marketing channels that could more efficiently reach their target audience, and (3) to make use of automation to connect with leads. To complement all these, telemarketing is a way (1) to better understand each customer’s needs, (2) to go deeper to draw out more personal and more valuable information which may lead to upselling and cross-selling opportunities, and (3) to make each individual customer engagement personal.
Therefore, going back to the question posed earlier, telemarketing is still relevant in today’s digital age. A new perspective is needed, instead of just seeing the shift to digital marketing as an imperative. The new tools, strategies, and technologies introduced by digital marketing can be viewed as enhancements so that brands could not just remain constant but also, by integrating the new to the existing tried and proven strategies, be more efficient, more personal, and more human in delivering value.
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1 Kotler and G. Armstrong (2016), Principles of Marketing, Global Ed. Pearson Education Limited. p.29.
2 P. Kotler and K. L. Keller (2012), Marketing Management,14th ed. Prentice Hall, p.
3 Ibid., p. 42.
4 Ibid., p, 43.
5 Kotler, H. Kartajaya, and I. Setiawan (2017). Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., p. 39.
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Ivan Deligero is a contributing author at StratAccess. He likes deep dives into the bottom of things and sharing discoveries and strategies towards desired goals. His years of exposure in different industries have led to a deeper insight into organizational structures and operations, as well as the importance of process improvement. In his free time, he also reads and writes about some recent thoughts in philosophy.