Monday, October 27, 2008

The Do-Not-Call List and the Changing Face of Marketing

As of September 30, 2008, Canadians can call in to place their names on the national Do-Not-Call List (DNCL). Click here to read the legislative summary. A simple phone call to the toll-free number 1-866-580-3625 or visit to the DNCL website is now enough for consumers to place their numbers on the fast-growing list. Already the phone lines have been inundated with Canadians eager to cut off cold calls.

The DNCL will severely limit the number of available telemarketing leads. The Canadian Marketing Association expects at least 60% of Canadian consumers to register their phone numbers. While telemarketing companies across Canada are facing a huge drop in their target market, Canadians are falling all over themselves to place their names on the list as quickly as possible—so much so, in fact, that on the first day of registration phone lines were overwhelmed with 1562 calls a minute, according to a recent CBC article.

The prognosis for small-scale telemarketers is grim. One needs only look to the backlash of the DNCL in the US, introduced in 2003. As of October 5, 2007, there were 145,498,656 telephone numbers registered in the States. An article appearing in the Canadian business journal Decima Telemanagement quotes Robert Kaiser, president of a US-based Telemarketing firm. “Many telemarketing firms closed in the initial backlash,” he said. "The legislation weeded out the smaller companies that can't afford the back office support and left more experienced companies that can afford the legal and other staff needed to follow the rules." So while large telemarketing companies can probably withstand the transition, those small businesses that rely on cold-calling and telemarketing will be hurt the most. The new regulations require that businesses adhere to the DNCL and update it on a regular basis, or risk fines of up to $15,000. There are a few exceptions to the rule, notably registered charities, political parties, newspapers, market research companies, and companies that have an “existing business relationship” with consumers.

The message is that if you’re still engaged in cold-calling and telemarketing to generate leads, it may be time to think about updating your approach. Marketing is an ever-changing process, and it’s critical to stay ahead of the curve if you want to beat out the competition. The fact is, the new Bill C-37 arose out of a poll with Industry Canada showing that 97% of Canadians react negatively to telemarketing calls. With the overwhelming number of telemarketers vying for their attention, this is hardly a surprise. If people do not want to receive sales calls, it is because they are inundated with them every day. They do not want to hear what your salespeople have to say.

So what are the alternatives?

Marketing in today’s world needs to take a different tactic, and the DNCL marks the decline of cold calling. While businesses are not yet qualified to add their numbers to the registry, it is only a matter of time. Marketing now needs to take into account that your potential clients are increasingly busy and resistant to impingements on their time.

The solution is to build trust with prospects before going for the sale. With the advent of white papers, search engine optimization, media insertion in trade magazines, industry analyst reports, email campaigns, blogs, and webinars, you can provide prospects with valuable information to let them make a responsible decision on their own terms. The advantage is that, with modern marketing lead generation tactics, prospects will be more receptive and informed about your company and your product/service—thus shortening your sales cycle. In addition, you will gain leads from prospects interested in your specific offering, if positioned correctly, and enjoy a higher conversion rate—no cold calling required.

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