Category Archives: call center

A conversation with Uncle Yield


In the incestuous world of advertising, most offspring have useful traits and yet, like in-laws seen years later at an unavoidable wedding party, also have grating flaws. You may find direct-response specialists focused on lead gen and costs per inquiry, all metrics, no vision. You encounter brand masters worried about identity and consistency and positioning, strategic geniuses who can’t spell results. You have creative types who ideate their way to castles in the clouds, visionaries who can’t count. You find young social media gurus, casting dispersion on traditional ad habits and talking about collaboration, communities and curation, all eloquence to little effect. And of course you know the New York City ivory-tower grandfathers, not really ad specialists but they’ve worked with Coke or Pepsi so they’ll skewer your ideas with a glare that says, where we come from, back in the day, we did everything so much better.

Yet, sometimes, rarely, you find the long-lost bearded-results mountain man, a crotchety oldster who legend has it once hiked the Appalachian Trail while making wine coolers hip in the 1980s. If he were an ad himself, he’d be Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World. We call him Uncle Yield. If you are lucky enough, you might ask Uncle Yield for real advice on how to make advertising work better.

He’d fix you in the eye, scratch off a heap of dandruff, stick a finger in his ear to adjust the wax, and say, inspecting the nail:

“Sonny, you’ve got to increase the yield.”

What the heck is “yield,” you ask? Why, you’ve just spent a million bucks on advertising with a sharp agency owned by an acronym in New York City, made the phones jump, captured 20% as leads and then sold a fraction of those respondents your product. The ads worked. You did your job. The arrogance of this old fart!

But your grumpy old uncle wouldn’t be satisfied with back-talk. He’d opine, “Laddie, when I was a child, we never threw anything out — especially your lost leads. Here’s what to do.

“Remember those people who called but you never caught as leads? Well, a lot of people get off the phone without giving you their contact information. But they called you, didn’t they? So they must be interested, right Sonny? So look up their originating phone number, append their address information, and put them in your prospect database. If you’ve only caught 20% of respondents as leads before, now you’ve increased your prospect pool by 5x!” Uncle Yield has been reading HBR, and he knows how to calculate a 400% lift in prospects. You blush.

“You with me lad? You’ve now identified a lot of people you didn’t sell! Now, get aggressive, Sonny! Do something! Call those unsold leads, and if you can’t get them on the phone, hit them with direct mail. And then hit them again. Because those unsold leads already told you they’re interested, like a girlie batting her eye at you in the downtown bar, so step up, you’ll reap double your regular conversion rate. You’ll be gaining many more customers for almost zero incremental cost. Why, a 10% increase in sales from your untouched, unsold leads equals hundreds of thousands you won’t have to spend on advertising next year!”

Well, damn, if he just didn’t teach you a trick about remarketing. You feel OK, it’s a good idea. Sure, there are risks. You bring up DNC requirements for remarketing, the need to get lawyers involved to make sure your contact approach is in line with the law, the fact that your direct mail budget may need some tweaking to free up funds from what until now had been an elegant intellectual exercise in targeting people who don’t know who you are. It won’t be easy, you say. Your uncle digs out more earwax, scoffs, and says, “For Pete’s sake, boy, turn up the office thermostat. Don’t you know cooling this operation costs money?”

Image: ToniVC

Maybe mobile ads should go inside the refrigerator


Way back in 2003 LG Electronics got press with its internet refrigerator: stylish design, flat-panel screen, tracking of groceries, LAN-link to the internet for recipes, etc. etc. Never took off. Seems the switching cost for consumers was too high, when the older ice boxes work just fine.

Reminds us of some of the stranger ad processes being proposed today, such as Blue-tooth ads on cell phones that ping the passer-by carrying the phone, ask them to switch on Bluetooth and then for permission to send the ad, and then, yes display the ad. You know. Complexity. Like those billboards in the U.S. that ask you to dial in to the radio. Or the QR response codes in Japan that ask consumers to snap photos of giant bar codes on buildings.

The test for marketers: Is your communication process easy? Advertising your message all breaks down to pull or push. Consumers pull you when they call or search on Google (one dial, or one click). You push consumers when you put an ad in the right format, in front of the right demo, with the right need, for a simple powerful impression.

But complexity confuses consumers. A good exercise for marketers it to mystery shop the response paths from your own advertising. Can consumers get from your Google campaign to your completed web form in a few clicks, or do they have to fill out 28 data input fields? Can consumers quickly call an intelligent TSR who can sign them up? Or do they have to spend 20 minutes navigating IVRs and answer questions and wait for call backs from field sales to make a purchase?

It’s good to try new media formats — we recommend it all the time. We think mobile and guerilla marketing media are brilliant. But we humbly note that the process of making impressions and enabling prospects to respond should be simple. Millions of consumers learned a huge new process recently — how to get on the internet — because as Thomas Friedman notes, the value of being able to connect with people in a new way greatly outweighed the pain of learning the PC. But unless you provide extraordinary value for consumers to learn to jump through new hoops, your advertising process should be simple — or the response may be as cool as an internet refrigerator.