Reprinted from DM News, December 8, 1997, Letters to the Editor

Public's Declining Perception of Telemarketing Has Hurt the Industry

The article "Telemarketing Stocks Tumble in '97," (DM News, Nov. 24, 1997) comes as no surprise to me.  The downturn of this highly productive market has been inevitable for some time now, but not only for the reason mentioned in your article.

Although rapid growth has led to eventual cutbacks when profits leveled off, the main reason for the decline is on a more micro level.  In the article, the reporter writes that telemarketing companies overextended, which eventually led to cutbacks.  In reality, it wasn't simply that the market was saturated. It was more of a change in public opinion about telemarketing that contributed to its decline.

Telemarketing was an effective tool before the American public was aware of what it was.  People saw it as a friendly call from a magazine.  Now they think of credit card scandals and annoying bill collectors, with the result that they consider telemarketing a nuisance.

The most critical part of a telemarketing call used to be the first 10 seconds, in which a positive feeling had to be instilled in the person receiving the call.

But now, even before a possible buyer listens to the pitch, he or she is thinking, "I'm not going to buy anything"  The amount of people asking to be taken off telemarketers lists is increasing at a constant rate. Until telemarketers can change the opinion of the consumer before the sales pitch starts, the industry will continue to struggle and not make the comeback the article forecasts.

Michael McNamara
Marketing analyst
The Company Store
Weehawken, NJ.

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