Letter: Now Is the Time to Build a New Foundation for the Industry

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Great article by Ken Magill ("Fine, Keep Your Head Down; See You at Unemployment," Aug. 4)! It reminds me of the time during the anthrax incidents when the public was afraid to open their mailboxes (much less their mail!) that the Direct Marketing Association and U.S. Postal Service did not come out as industry spokespeople to inform the public that commercially assembled mail was safe and that more than 95 percent of the mail produced is done under quality-controlled automation that goes directly to the post office.

I remember reading about someone who said, "Now that people are looking at their mail, let's put something on the envelopes to get them to open it!" It is a shame we as marketers take point on situations after and not before.

Your ideas about PR strategies should not be taken lightly, especially when we are starting a long, slow recovery. Now is the time to start building a new foundation for our industry's future so we can be part of the growth, not seen as the reason for its demise.

Direct mail works: People still love catalogs and getting offers in the mail. Fundraising would not exist without direct marketing. The Internet is a great support tool for DM strategies. Telemarketing needs some new ideas, and the best place to get them would be from the people who get the calls. Use telemarketing as tools in upselling and cross-selling efforts or follow-ups. When I shop at Sports Authority, they ask for my phone number without telling me why, so I am reluctant to give it out. When I do, I get a phone call, albeit annoyingly automated, thanking me for my recent purchase and offering me an incentive to shop more at a discount.

Responses are down for many reasons, but not because direct marketing doesn't work or is annoying to consumers. It is a phase our industry goes through, just as any industry does, but the smart and strong will survive and grow. Look around and see who they are and what they do. We need to listen, learn and move in positive directions by taking a stand and taking some risks.

Tom Brady, TCB Direct Marketing Services Inc., Bedford Hills, NY



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