Luncheon Speakers Explore DM Tactics for Difficult Times

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CHICAGO -- These are roll-up-your-sleeves times, said speakers at yesterday's Direct Marketing Association's 19th Annual Catalog Conference & Exhibition.

Even when the economy is good, marketers need to be acquiring new customers -- not just focusing on existing ones, Fingerhut president Michael Sherman said during the luncheon keynote panel, "Tough Tactics for Turbulent Times."

"A file in decline is a dangerous sign," Sherman said.

Failing to grow your house file list may save money in the short term, but it will be your demise in the long term, said Sherman, who advised marketers to use modeling as a means to reactivate lapsed customers and to aggressively use promotions such as free shipping, percentages off and two-for-ones to sell merchandise.

The panel, moderated by Donn Rappaport, chairman/CEO of American List Counsel, included Becky Jewett, president of Norm Thompson Outfitters, and Tim Litle, president of Litle & Co. Each panelist addressed one of the four keys to direct marketing success -- merchandising, marketing, technology and data Sherman's topic was marketing.

Jewett said marketers must pay close attention to merchandising issues such as updating best sellers, following market trends, finding unique product and testing new products. In addition, she noted the importance of finding out what your customers are buying from other marketers.

Though technology has come a long way in recent years, marketers need to put it to better use, Litle said. He recommended that marketers integrate their multi-channel efforts so customers have a consistent experience across channels.

Finally, Rappaport talked about data.

"Make collection and management of data an organizational priority," he said.

Not only must marketers explore new ways to gather data, Rappaport said, but they must also do more with the data collected. He recommended that marketers explore data issues such as lifetime value and attrition as well as frequency marketing and third-party marketing programs.

Rappaport also urged marketers not to be afraid of opt-in data collection on the Internet. Give them a good reason and they will opt-in, he said.


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