Last Updated: November 30, 2020

In 2010, a UK-based foreign currency exchange company called Moneycorp needed to expand its customer base. Moneycorp found itself too dependent on the business of individual consumers, who made up over 70 percent of the company’s annual revenue.

Because individual people don’t need to exchange foreign currency as often as international corporations, Moneycorp wanted to increase the number of corporate clients it served. It had avoided doing so in the past because the process of generating leads for the senior sales team was time consuming and expensive.

To solve this problem, Moneycorp hired a marketing firm called Market Makers to initiate a telemarketing campaign solely dedicated to generating leads among potential corporate clients. The campaign improved the number of potential clients who set up appointments to discuss opening contracts with Moneycorp by a significant margin.

The telemarketers of Market Makers scheduled an average of one appointment every two hours, a 33 percent improvement over the company’s original numbers. Furthermore, the number of corporate clients who canceled their service after the telemarketing campaign was under two percent. By using a dedicated telemarketing strategy, Moneycorp generated higher-quality leads and expanded the most profitable, consistent sector of its client base.

What is telemarketing?

Telemarketing is a marketing strategy that involves connecting with customers over the telephone or, more recently, through web-based video conferencing. (See also Direct Marketing)

Telemarketing is one of the most divisive strategies in modern marketing because many organizations have been known to use irritating or unethical practices in telemarketing. One of the most negatively-perceived versions of telemarketing is known as “robo-calling,” a practice that involves using a pre-recorded message delivered through an automatic dialing machine that can contact thousands of people every day. Because of these and other unpopular methods, there are many government regulations of telemarketing in several countries throughout the world.

Negative Perceptions

Despite generating an estimated $500 billion per year worldwide, telemarketing is resoundingly negative in the public perception. The term itself is mostly associated with cold calls to private individuals at home, which can skew some statistics that don’t survey businesses or individuals in a professional capacity.

Thoughts associated with the term “telemarketing” in a Direct Marketing Association survey of 1.78 million private individuals.

  • 98% claim telemarketing makes them “angry”
  • 92% claim to receive fraudulent offers via telemarketing
  • 20% neglect to report suspected telemarketing fraud out of embarrassment

While many methods of telemarketing are looked upon negatively by consumers and lawmakers, the telemarketing field is broad and includes several methods that are ethical and highly effective. In the above example of Moneycorp, the campaign was not about selling a product over the phone, but making contact between Moneycorp’s senior sales team and their potential clients more effecient and successful.

Who implements telemarketing campaigns?

Telemarketing can help a wide variety of organizations achieve improved results in different ways. Though the most obvious form of telemarketing involves company calls to individuals at home to pitch them products, telemarketing is also a significant strategy in business-to-business sales, event promotion, political campaigning, and lead generation for more sophisticated sales procedures. (See also Outbound Marketing)

Market Makers, the telemarketing company hired by Moneycorp, contacted corporations that were in need of the service Moneycorp provided. The marketers did not attempt to make a sale over the phone, only collect contact information and determine a potential client’s interest in Moneycorp’s services to generate strong leads for the senior sales team.

Companies that wish to promote an event that appeals to a specific demographic can also use telemarketing to reach potential participants. For instance, a company that organizes continuing education conferences for dentists could use telemarketing to contact a large number of dental practices to raise awareness about an upcoming conference, and encourage the dentists to attend.

Political campaigns use telemarketing extensively to raise funds and convince people to vote for the campaign’s candidate or cause. Large campaigns, like those for presidential elections, tend to use automated systems to reach the largest number of people possible. Local campaigns for positions like mayor or congressional representative, or for local ballot measures, often employ live telephone representatives instead. A similar method is used for universities and nonprofit organizations that wish to raise funds and increase participation.

No-Go for Robo

In the past decade, there has been aggressive legislation regulating or outright banning robocalls in several American states. As of 2012, 23 states prohibit robocalling in some form. Many enforce bans through the National Do Not Call Registry. The NDNCR was first implemented in 2004 to give consumers the option to refuse any telemarketing calls whatsoever and take legal action against any organization that ignores their registration with the Do Not Call list.

Any form of telemarketing can also employ an inbound method, which is the use of other kinds of advertising and networking to encourage customers to make first contact in search of more information or to make a purchase.

Creating a telemarketing plan

Any organization interested in using telemarketing must first have a strong understanding of the product it wishes to market. This not only means giving the marketing team plenty of information about the product’s features and specifications, it also means conducting research about who would be interested in the product.

Most telemarketing targets a specific demographic. An organization using telemarketing should conduct market research to learn about its target demographic, such as the demographic’s buying habits and the kinds of products they value the most.

For example, if a cleaning service wanted to use a telemarketing strategy, it could read market data and conduct surveys to find out what kinds of customers are in the greatest need of professional cleaning and what they want in a cleaning service.

With the marketing team properly informed and the market research complete, the company’s next step is to set clear goals for what the telemarketing campaign should accomplish. The campaign can be about closing sales, generating new leads, or simply collecting market data that can be used in other sales and marketing campaigns. In the case of the cleaning service, they may wish to use telemarketing to generate leads among the demographic of homeowners who make more than $100,000 per year.

Once an organization has its campaign goals in mind, it can create the actual materials used during telemarketing calls. Many organizations write scripts that telephone associates memorize and recite during calls. Others simply give their telephone associates goals and allow them to conduct more natural conversations with customers to achieve those goals (See also Call Center Marketing). If the cleaning company from our example doesn’t want to use a script, they could set a goal for the phone associates to gather customer information, like interest in the service and the best times for cleaning crews to visit the customer’s home

The final stage of telemarketing campaigns depends on the campaign’s goals. If it is a direct sales campaign, the final stage is the closing of a sale. This can happen in one call or after several return calls over a specific period of time. Campaigns designed to generate leads end by delivering those leads to a sales team. Regardless of the campaign’s purpose, the marketing team should assess how well the campaign achieved its goals and use both data gathered and recordings of live calls to determine areas where the campaign or the phone associates can be improved.

Goals for Telemarketing

Telemarketing can be used to achieve several different business goals, including:

  • Selling a product
  • Generating leads for a sales team
  • Conducting surveys and collecting consumer data
  • Maintaining contact with existing customers or encouraging previous customers to return.

Careers in telemarketing

Telemarketing relies on professionals at every level of a marketing team, from entry level positions, to salaried roles and even management. The following are three of the most common careers that participate in telemarketing.

Telephone Associate

What do they do?

Telemarketing Salaries

  • Telephone Associate
    Starting Wage: $8-$9 per hour
    Median Wage: $10.83 per hour
    Top Earners: $18.96 per hour
  • Copywriter
    Junior: $28,000
    Senior: $55,200
    Top Earners: $109,000
  • Marketing Manager
    Starting: $41,480
    Median: $83,890
    Top Earners: $166, 400

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The backbone of any telemarketing campaign is the people who work the phones as the first point of contact for all customers. This role is a great opportunity to start a career in marketing because it requires little to no experience and demonstrates many aspects of a marketing campaign in real time. Phone associates get to see completed marketing scripts, information from market research and brand development, and even the metrics by which senior marketing staff measure the success of a campaign.

Education and Skills

Telephone associates should be in the process of attaining a bachelor’s degree or have already achieved a degree in marketing, business, communications, or psychology. Many phone associate positions require no work experience, but any previous work or school experience that demonstrates strong communication skills and a willingness to learn can be very helpful.


What do they do?

When telemarketing campaigns use scripts for phone conversations, a copywriter is the professional who crafts the script. Copywriting involves the creation of a variety of different marketing materials, so a copywriter is expected to have versatility in the kinds of content he or she can easily produce. This includes but is not limited to advertising copy, website text, blogs, ebooks, and white papers.

Education and Skills

Copywriters should have a bachelor’s degree in marketing, business, English, journalism, communications, or psychology. It is good to have experience in a writing-focused role, though a copywriter’s portfolio of work samples is the most important part of any resume.

Marketing Manager

What do they do?

A marketing manager is in charge of overseeing every aspect of a marketing campaign. In telemarketing, the manager is responsible for hiring, handling the project budget, assigning tasks to each member of the marketing team, and approving all materials before implementing them in the field.

Education and Skills

Because it is a leadership role, a marketing manager is expected to have previous experience in a non-leadership position in the field of marketing and a demonstrated understanding of the business. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in a marketing-related subject, many managers achieve advanced training like a Master of Business Administration degree.

How can a marketing school help you succeed?

Our Recommended Schools

  1. Grand Canyon University (GCU)

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  2. Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

    Explore the bond between business and consumer behavior with a degree in marketing.

One of the most efficient ways to pursue a career in marketing is to enroll in a marketing education program. These programs teach the core principles of many marketing strategies, including telemarketing, in an environment geared toward professionals who are eager to enter a fast-paced field of business.

Students in a marketing program will begin with courses that establish a foundation of best practices for corporate structures and team organization that emphasize communication and critical thinking. These classes will cover financing, time management, the development of research skills, and other subjects vital to functioning in any role on a marketing team.

Marketing programs also introduce students to business technology they are likely to encounter in the workplace. This includes learning advanced applications in office suite programs for word processing, database management, and presentation development, as well as becoming familiar with popular information modeling and image editing software. Those interested in telemarketing will have the opportunity to explore customer management systems like SalesForce and learn how to operate modern business phones.

Late-program coursework revolves around case studies of real-world marketing campaigns and the hands-on experience of student-run simulations. These exercises are excellent practice for any student who wants to get a better idea of how to set metrics for the success of a campaign and how to measure expected and actual results from campaign strategies. At this stage, students will be able to see methods like telemarketing in action and use what they learn to enter the job market with valuable skills and concrete knowledge.