Direct from consumer marketing

Drug companies have coined an acronym for the marketing they do that bypasses doctors: DTC. Direct to consumer. Those happy face ads you see in Readers Digest and other magazines, or the erectile dysfunction ads during the Super Bowl.

What they are totally unprepared for, and what your organization may be unprepared for is Direct from consumer.

If someone takes your medicine and gets sick, do you want to hear from them, or would you rather have them blog about it or make a video?

Most drug company marketers instantly say, "we want to hear from them!"


When your airline or hotel has a passenger or guest who is so angry he could spit, do you want to hear from him or do you want him to make a long Powerpoint that spreads around the whole web? Really?

And when your cable company or chiropractic clinic or consulting firm has a disappointed client, what about you? Really?

I think the actions of almost all marketers say, "we'd rather you were happy, but if you can't be happy, please go away."

If you really want me to call you, then put your toll free number in giant type on the label. (If you run a free service, Google style, I think it's okay to settle for an easy to use and responsive web presence). Answer the call on the first ring. No phone tree. And give me instant sympathy, maybe a little empathy too. Don't blame me or evade. Give me a refund. And say sorry and thank you.

"Oh," the powerful marketers say, "we could never do that." Two reasons, apparently. First, they say, because it would encourage people to pretend they were angry in order to take advantage. And second, they say, because it would be too expensive.

Compared to what?

Back when every consumer was alone, you could ignore the few angry ones and use the money you saved to run more ads. But now? Now in the DFC era, do you really have any choice?

Angry phone calls are your friend. They're your friend because the alternative is angry tweets and angry blog posts.