DMNews talks with Becky Chidester, president of Wunderman New York

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Becky Chidester
Becky Chidester

Q: What's the top priority for today's direct marketer?

A: Marketing dollars and marketing activities are even more successful today. Something that we are building further capabilities around is integrated solutions. What our clients are looking for us do to is to put better synergy between channels. So, how do you use direct mail and digital and teleservices in a very synergistic way and build the most effective pathway for consumers? It's not that our clients haven't been communicating in these channels but our role has been to use them more synergistically and effectively then what's been done in the past.

Q: What's your advice for how your clients can start that improved integration process?

A: We've actually recast the term CRM. It's always meant customer relationship management and we've really been defining CRM around “customers really managing.” I think that is driving how we're approaching this integrated solution. There's no cookie cutter approach, you really need to look at how your customers and prospects are looking to engage. You need to put a lot of things out in different channels so that you can respond to customers wherever they are.

Q: What's the evolution of the phrase “customers really managing”?

A: I've been in this business for a long time. In the past, we would talk about moving from direct marketing to relationship marketing and then relationship marketing we talked about one to one. Now things are going from one to one to many to many. That is because we are letting consumers be more in control and letting them be advocates. It comes back to not just us pushing information out  - even in the past our goals were to push more relevant information – now it's even more of a push-pull situation.

Q: Are there any hot emerging channels that Wunderman is looking into?

A: We're definitely hearing clients interested in mobile and social networking but I would be hard pressed to suggest that we're pushing clients to them.

Absolutely we're helping our clients figure out the best way to embrace those new realities. I think for us, especially for an organization like Wunderman and our heritage, its less about just the emerging channels and more about using the older channels but using them more effectively than what's been done in the past because the technology allows you to do this. The way that we're using direct mail is smarter because with print on demand and some of the technologies and the availability of data we really are in a better position to use that channel to speak to people in much more relevant ways that what we have been able to do in the past.

Q: What hurdles are on the horizon for direct marketers and their agencies?

A: As much as I talk about channel integration, you'll find that big clients still aren't really structured to completely embrace that. It's not uncommon for our clients to have an agency relationship with a direct marketer, an agency relationship wit an interactive agency and to have their Hispanic agency relationship. That is a big hurdle because to be able to get to that promise that I talked about somebody really has to be focused on the customer and on the customer experience.

The other hurdle, I will say is in data. Data has become more available. And certainly, I'm a big believer that data is very much an enabler to helping us achieve relevancy. But you'll still find that certain clients are very reluctant to completely embrace that. It may be that their data responsibility and program performance are in-house.  If they hold on to that data it does not allow us to use data in ways that are more effective. Using data to drive relevancy not just using drive results.

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