Zen and the art of direct marketing

A meditating marketer zen direct marketing

Digital stress is a disease of direct marketing. And no wonder – when the average person receives more than 60,000 words of new information every day, according to BloombergBusinessweek. That’s the equivalent of a novel.

Swamped by e-mails, tweets, Facebook updates – and countless direct marketing messages – it’s a miracle that people haven’t drowned in the deluge. So what hope is there for your campaigns? How on earth will your direct marketing message be heard amid this ‘information overload’?

Publishing consultant Dan Brown believes the answer may lie in poetry. Writing for InPublishing magazine, he quoted from T S Eliot’s Four Quartets, which refers to ‘the still point of the turning world’. Brown then asked, ‘Do you remember the last time you were so absorbed by a piece of writing you found yourself there, in that lovely, transcendent, still point of the turning world?’

It’s quite a challenge. But what if this is one of the keys to unlocking some new doors for much of our work in marketing and PR? Think about it. You can’t stop the world as it rushes by your customer’s computer screen at hypersonic speed, stirring up ‘a pandemic of distractedness’. But you can create reflective moments, where customers can connect with you.

‘For a memory to exist,’ said biologist Eric Kandel, ‘the incoming information must be thoroughly and deeply processed.’ Here are some suggested remedies for digital stress:

  • know your own knowledge needs, and don’t be afraid to drop an information source that doesn’t deliver much;
  • learn to search effectively so you’re not left wading through a sea of worthless information;
  • don’t digest every tweet, Facebook comment or e-mail, but read what catches your eye;
  • adopt the ‘still point’ as your editorial and design ethos, affecting everything you produce in direct marketing;
  • help your customer to ‘meaningfully and systematically’ process your message;
  • free your editorial and design teams from convention, and allow them to experiment with fresh expressions;
  • challenge your copywriters, designers and bloggers not only to brainstorm, but also to dream;
  • go for what Dan Brown calls ‘the volume of ideas’, see what comes up and then evaluate and pick the best ones.

This is about having something like a ‘Zen’ approach to your direct marketing. ‘Zen’ comes from the Indian Sanskrit term dhyana which simply means ‘meditation’. All you have to do is create a reflective space within your work – both for your benefit and for your customer’s benefit. Make sure there is time and space in your direct marketing for the reader to sit back and sigh.

It won’t come easy. We’re all programmed to race ahead of everyone else, to keep the march of progress going. But that march of progress isn’t doing so well these days, is it? We should move to the beat of a different drum.

Visit Marketscan’s download centre for some practical tools to make your direct marketing work for you. Here are some other helpful weblinks:

http://www.inpublishing.co.uk/kb/articles/online_design_calls_for_poetic_leadership.aspx 

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-06-19/is-cue-the-cure-for-information-overload 

http://lifeinthefastlane.com/2009/07/information-overload/

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