EDITORIAL: OK, DMers, Shut Up and Put Up

Share this content:
Immediately striking at the Direct Marketing Association's 82nd Annual Conference and Exhibition last year in Toronto was the location of the Internet companies -- in a comparatively small room that seemed as if it were somewhere on the outskirts of Buffalo.

Obviously, the placement was due to the companies' short length of membership in the DMA, but it was symbolic nonetheless.

Were young upstarts infiltrating the direct marketing industry? Or were industry vets simply tolerating them on the perimeter until they ran out of venture cash?

On the other hand, were the folks in the middle of the gargantuan exhibit hall dinosaurs just waiting for the comet to hit? It certainly seemed so.

Today, though, the tables have turned.

From an editorial perspective, what once seemed like an endless flood of press releases with headlines such as "JustWhenYouThoughtABusinessPlanCouldn'tBeStupider.com Receives $6 Million From Gullible Venture Partners" has slowed to a trickle.

Dot-coms have wasted a lot of money. As a result, investors are getting tight with their money, and the days of fire-hose branding are apparently over -- which means the dot-commers no longer have the obscene, deficit-spending advantage they had over their traditional counterparts a year ago.

And direct marketers know that their understanding of acquisition and retention marketing and fulfillment is exactly what is missing as many of these companies vanish.

It'll be interesting to see whether the show floor at the DMA's 83rd annual conference in New Orleans this week reflects the shift.

However, direct marketers have at least one quality that will continue to get in their way as the current stage of Internet marketing unfolds.

Direct marketing historically hasn't received the respect it deserves. As a result, many of its practitioners have huge chips on their shoulders.

Don't believe me? Just pull one out of a crowd and tell him or her that the Internet is direct marketing, but that not all the old rules apply. If the resulting expression of disdain doesn't make you want to give him or her a quick backhand, you are indeed patient.

So what's different about the Internet? Even beyond the well-publicized differences between postal marketing and e-mail, people generally go online with specific tasks in mind. To give credit where it's due, Internet marketing consultant Sandra Gassmann, president of Sage Marketing, New York, reminded me of this recently in a lunch discussion on this topic.

How does it change things? It means the marketer must find ways to become part of the task's goal, or learn how to interrupt it in a way that is compelling and welcome enough to divert the user from his or her intended path. Certainly easier said than done, given how much of offline marketing's success often relies on inertia.

Direct marketers will never get the credit they deserve.

But they certainly have the foundational tools to find answers to the task-interruption dilemma for each dot-com with a solid business model -- that is, if they can put a lid on the attitude.

Next Article in Marketing Strategy

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

Since 1985, Melissa has helped thousands of companies clean, correct and complete contact data to better target and communicate with their customers. We offer a full spectrum of data quality solutions, including global address, phone, email, and name validation, identify verification - available for batch or real-time processes, in the Cloud or on-premise. Our service bureau provides dedupe, email/phone append and geographic/demographic append services for better targeting and insight. For direct mailers, Melissa offers easy-to-use address management/postal software, list hygiene services and 100s of specialty mailing lists - all with competitive pricing and excellent customer service.

Find out more here »

Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here

Relive the 2017 Marketing Hall of Femme

Click the image above