Successful Marketers Head Back to Basics, Wientzen Says

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SEATTLE -- Direct marketers have survived the dot-com shakeout by applying traditional marketing tactics to their online marketing, Direct Marketing Association president/CEO H. Robert Wientzen told an audience yesterday at the association's show.

While other companies were falling victim to "poor execution," Wientzen said, traditional direct marketers resorted to basic marketing skills, such as database capabilities, sophisticated order taking, fulfillment systems and customer service.

"When you're marketing, regardless of the medium, you must have training in the classics," he told the audience of 380. "Some of the new guys, while producing incredible technology with all the bells and whistles, didn't always know the ABCs of marketing."

According to a study last year by WEFA, an economic forecasting group, direct marketers' Web sites are projected to bring in $136 billion in online sales in 2005, up from $170 million in 1995, Wientzen said.

He also said that technology alone, without a strong foundation in traditional marketing, could not lead to profitability.

"It boils down to using the Net wisely, taking advantage of its strengths and not looking to it as some sort of technological panacea," he said.

The shakeout, however, should not lead marketers to believe that e-commerce is dead, Wientzen said. Instead, he said this is just the beginning.

"The recent crash was not the end of the road," he said. "Rather, it was just a bump in the road, albeit a big one."

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