DM Club Speaker: Take Market Share in 2003

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NEW YORK -- "This is the year to take market share," according to a speaker at yesterday's well-attended Direct Marketing Club of New York luncheon here at the Yale Club.


Prospecting has been down for a while but 2003 could be a good year for mailers that stand behind their product to prospect for increased market share, Allen Abbott, senior vice president at Paul Frederick MenStyle catalog, said during a panel presentation, "The Shape of Things to Come in '03: Publishing, Fundraising & Merchandising."


When asked how important developing new sources for gaining customers was to their businesses, Abbott and fellow panelists gave divergent answers.


Publishing veteran Chip Block, vice chairman of USAPubs.com, said that given the demise of sweepstakes and flagging newsstand sales, publishers had to start looking elsewhere.


"Publishers have been concentrating on new source development for quite some time," he said. He cited the Internet and partnership/sponsorship opportunities as the most promising areas for growth.


Meanwhile, a direct marketing consultant said his clients generally were concentrating on bolstering relationships with existing customers than spending a lot to acquire new customers.


"The focus is inward," said Robert Cherins, president of communications consultancy Cherins & Co. "Everything costs more, and everything is less responsive." He said he expected the trend to continue in 2003.


Abbott advocated investment in prospecting but also said that the offer was vital. He suggested finding an offer that speaks to the core of the mailer's identity, which for Paul Frederick was a white dress shirt promo offer.


Panelists agreed that most DMers wouldn't hire much in 2003. Cherins said that internal hiring freezes at companies made them more dependent upon outside vendors for services that may have been done internally before.


From a cataloger's perspective, Abbott said the printing industry had done much to make itself more useful to mailers but that data processing and the list industry had not.


Chris Paradysz, CEO of ParadyszMatera Inc., moderated the panel. He predicted that 2003 would be a good year despite concerns such as the prospect of war with Iraq, terrorism, unemployment and the economy in general.


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