January 21, 2004
Has the phone stopped ringing yet? Oh wait, that's the doorbell.
Direct marketers whose business was hung up by the Do Not Call law are pounding the pavement... right to your door.
According to a story in The Intelligencer & Wheeling News-Register in Wheeling, W.V., some companies affected by the freeze on cold-calling are toying with the old-fashioned art of door-to-door sales. The article quotes Direct Selling Association spokesman Joseph Mariano predicting an "upsurge in door-to-door selling."
"Avon calling!" is the classic example of direct sales. Avon Products (NYSE: AVP ) built a solid business based on face-to-face contact. Other avenues into would-be customers' living rooms are parties (Tupperware, anyone?) and multilevel programs (more Tupperware, anyone?).
But would you buy phone service from someone who showed up at your door?
SBC Communications (NYSE: SBC ) hopes so. The company has made house calls on business customers for almost a year. Now SBC and competitor AT&T (NYSE: ATT ) are sending reps to neighborhoods to court business from individuals.
Still, The Intelligencer reports that direct selling accounts for less than 1% of retail sales. Industry experts don't expect that number to suddenly skyrocket. The economics of door-to-door sales most likely won't work on a large-scale basis. After you take these five official steps to opt-out of the marketing machine, you might want to post a "Do Not Ding-Dong" plaque on your door.