5 things direct marketers can learn from House of Cards’ Frank Underwood
Frank Underwood, lead protagonist of a trending TV series House of Cards is extremely popular with viewers, but certainly not the most polite and transparent character in recent cinematography. Nevertheless, his Machiavellian attitude towards achieving goals can offer marketers a handful of very useful tips. In this article, we take on five of his quotes and we interpret them from the direct marketing perspective. 
  1. “Power is a lot like real estate. It’s all about location, location, location. The closer you are to the source, the higher your property value.”

    Marketing power is also about location. Target the customers at the right place and they’ll appreciate the message. Be it a tasty meal voucher email sent during lunch time, retailer’s discount in a push notification to their phone when they are in the vicinity of a shopping centre or a direct mail piece with personalised holiday offer waiting for them in the mailbox. With 87% of people reading direct mail messages, the good old mailbox may well be the best place to reach the potential customers.
  2. “Such a waste of talent. He chose money over power. In this town [Washington], a mistake nearly everyone makes."

    Making money may be quick, but making connections and establishing influence is certainly not. Unless they are just launching a start-up or a completely new product line, marketers have a client database that they can target. Instead of trying to grow their customer base exponentially (AKA achieve the impossible), a better strategy is to focus on long-term relationships. For this purpose, research studies (such as this) show that direct mail is the most effective channel to make consumers feel valued, far ahead of email and television.
  3. “What you have to understand about my people is that they are a noble people. Humility is their form of pride. It is their strength; it is their weakness. And if you can humble yourself before them they will do anything you ask.”

    Although this quote referred to inhabitants of a small town in South Carolina, US, the big learning from it is universal. Marketers should use all the data available to better know their customers and talk to them in a way that resonates with their expectations (here, you can see how Google catered to a specific and conservative target group). Information such as devices used, purchase history, location, preferences and the vast socio-demographic data will give marketers leverage to make use of true, deep targeting. In short: segment customers and test messages from day one.

  4. “Of all the things I hold in high regard, rules are not one of them.”

    This, by no means, is to say direct marketers should do away with all the rules they follow in preparing marketing campaigns, however it is a fact that, time and time again, innovative and out-of-the-box creatives (such as this one from AnPost) win top-level awards and achieve brilliant ROI. Sometime, innovating in marketing campaigns means creating new rules rather than using the existing ones.

  5. “While you argue the present versus the past, I am making the future”

    Marketing strategy implementation is now a round-the-clock job – the consumer- and market-related data is moving so quickly that there is hardly any time to look at and compare what was and what is right now. While analysing the past may give marketers some useful hints, the primary objective for them is to prepare the products or services offering for the market of tomorrow. Implementing data automation and testing with each and every campaign will let the marketers learn on the go. The truth is this – nobody will buy your products yesterday, but there is a high chance that they’ll do it tomorrow. 

More resources for direct marketers available here.