If every person opened up to one other person in need, providing friendship, mentorship and example, it could have a profound affect that could trickle down to an endless stream of others.
As a part of my Marketing Strategy Series, I’m talking with my fellow marketing pros at the top of their game to give entrepreneurs and marketers an inside look at proven strategies you might also be able to leverage to grow your business. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Dick Wechsler.
Dick has spent more than a quarter-century in senior marketing and Direct Response. He is widely recognized as one of the foremost thought leaders in DR and is a sought-after speaker at major industry conferences. Dick has authored more than 30 articles in leading publications and is a member of the Direct Response Hall of Fame.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting and what lesson you learned from that?
When you’re in media, small errors can have large consequences. Very early on, I transposed an 800 number on a broadcast master. No one realized the mistake until over $100,000 in media had ran. I had to take the hit. I also had to admit that I was a terrible typist and proofreader. So, I decided to develop a media management system that would do everything from ordering broadcast master to traffic to campaign analytics and reporting, while minimizing keystrokes. That was over 25 years ago, and the system, MediaPro, has become the proprietary backbone of my company, Lockard & Wechsler Direct (LWD).
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
My tipping point came within one year of starting out. Our largest client told us they were putting the account into review. It was desperate times. At that time, we specialized in the financial service industry and did a lot of print advertising and direct mail work. TV was a new channel for us. In order to survive, I decided to look outside the financial service area for new clients and to focus on TV. To do that, I ran an ad on the first page of the marketing section in the Wall Street Journal. The ad promoted, “Per Inquiry Deals of TV.” I received over 60 calls from prospective clients the first morning the ad ran. Four people that responded are still clients today. From then on, TV became a major growth area for us and we successfully expanded from financial services to all aspects of consumer products.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
The marketing world is constantly evolving. My advice is to embrace the change and to challenge yourself to constantly learn. If you do, burnout should never be an issue. My other piece of advice is to always find a way to empirically measure everything you do while you’re doing it, so you can continuously improve.
Consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. Where do you see the future of marketing headed?
Here’s my takeaway with Google and Facebook. Google has shown that people want information. Over 50% of all Internet sessions begin with search as opposed to direct type in. Google search is the new phone directory.
Facebook illustrates how powerful affinity groups are. If there’s a specialty interest, there’s a Facebook page about it. It shows how powerful affinity marketing remains. By the way, direct marketers, magazine publishers and cable networks have known this for a long time.
For me, the fracturing of the media world is the biggest change that’s come about because of companies like Google, Facebook and the constant growth in Internet bandwidth. Mass media has become an increasingly rare commodity. Learning how to effectively identify and efficiently reach prospects in mass is likely to become increasingly difficult.
Can you please tell us the 5 things you wish someone told you before you started?
I’m going to twist this around and tell you five things that I was told or learned that helped me over the past three decades.
- Tell the client three times convincingly what you believe to be their best option, then do what they want enthusiastically. Paul Alvarez, former chairman of Ketchum Public Relations told me this after Milton Bradley passed on an amazing idea we had presented. I share this with my staff regularly.
- Never speak disparagingly of a client internally or externally. You never know who is listening. Also, doing so is the first step in dropping your guard and the quality of service you provide.
- You don’t always have to be right, and things don’t always have to be done your way. This one is important. If you insist on things always being done the same way, you’ll never discover a better way. Asieya Pine joined LWD over 20 years ago as my assistant. On her second day, she completely reorganized our accounts payable and receivable process. Asieya is now president of the agency.
- Don’t be afraid to grow! Look at Horizon Media. GEICO could have easily outgrown them as an agency. They never let it happen. We have several clients who have been with us for nearly 30 years. Many grew from startups to billion-dollar companies. As frightening as it is to hire staff and build new capabilities, doing so was critical to our growth and the long-term tenure of so many of our clients.
- Follow the path of least resistance. It will lead you to success. I’ve had many clients throw good money at bad ideas, trying to make an unsuccessful item successful. It never works, but it drains a ton or resources.
Thank you so much for sharing these fantastic insights!