DM fundamentals key to surviving Great Recession: MeritDirect Co-op

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Four business executives said they survived the “Great Recession” by returning to direct marketing fundamentals, while speaking during a July 14 panel discussion at the MeritDirect Business Mailers's Co-op and Interactive Marketing Conference.

“The fundamentals of direct marketing really count,” said Keith Grabow, VP of global marketing at Myron Manufacturing. “Plush times give you a lot to cover the warts of an organization. But [eventually] they start to show.”

He said Myron focused its efforts on what the company calls the “value metric,” an analysis method that determines whether or not Myron received payback on its activity. He said the metric allowed the company to compare one activity to another and make decisions on how best to move forward with each.

“Now we are able to take money from activities that aren't paying back and put money into things that will,” said Grabow, adding that Myron never had to cut back on customer prospecting.

HL DeVore, CMO at Prudent Publishing Co., said his firm focused on unidentified allocation, which he referred to as “the No. 1 secret in this business.”

“If you're a broker or a small operation and you don't know exactly how you're allocating your unidentified, then you're screwing yourself,” he said.

Bruce Newman, CEO of Peachtree Business Products, expressed concern about the lack of young professionals at the conference.

“Where are the younger people we're supposed to be teaching?” Newman asked the room full of marketers, the majority of whom raised their hands when asked who was born before 1971. “We can debate about what we've done right in the last four years, but since we're all born before 1971, we've seen our last recession. But the people who work for us are likely to see three or four more.”

He added that marketing executives need to tell their employees what their “deliverables” are to present clear and achievable objectives.

“You're not valued for what you do but what the outcomes are,” said Newman.

Neil Sexton, president and COO of industrial supply firm Northern Safety Co., said his company didn't have to sacrifice the core of its business during the recession because it hired 30 part-time data cleaning specialists to ensure it reached customers with appropriate offers at the right time.

“We've cleaned up our lapsed file and we're getting more aggressive in mailing to that file because we feel we've done a good job cleaning it up,” he said.

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