Tough times are silver lining for direct

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Carol Krol, editor in chief, Direct Marketing News
Carol Krol, editor in chief, Direct Marketing News

How's this for an attention-grabbing headline, courtesy of the Associated Press: "Here we go again: Another big down day for Dow." As I write this column, the Dow is going berserk again in a major stock sell-off on the heels of poor economic reports and European debt woes.

It is down double-digit percentages since July. We have all watched our 401Ks take a hit in the past several weeks, and prognosticators on and beyond Wall Street are again wringing their hands over the potential of a double-dip economic recession in the next six to 12 months. 

The Lowdown in this month's issue addresses the roller-coaster market's effect on the ad world, between the Dow, the downgraded Standard & Poor's rating and the last-minute shenanigans around the nation's debt-ceiling negotiations. Some of our sources cite business as usual, but others note spending slippage among advertisers.

As we wrote in our own view in The Lowdown, these realities do have an effect on marketers, just like professionals in nearly every sector, and another recession — if it happens — is going to be rough across the board. 

It is well known that smart CEOs try to capitalize on tough times by cutting waste and investing in things that grow business and expand market share, but they'll only invest in what will pay off. That's where direct marketing, with its measurability, wins the day. 

Tough times only reinforce the requirement that marketers justify every single dollar spent. That means not just account for it, but prove the value of that investment.

Like stock market investors, advertisers are unsure where to spend ad dollars. They're looking for safety, security and back-to-basics. They want to be able to see measurable results. Direct folks should take advantage of that. This is the moment.

Direct execs can turn that spending slippage into a dramatic shift, a refocus of budgets and strategies toward the most solid investment any marketer can make: direct marketing. 

They want accountability? Direct marketing's got it. Transparency? Ditto. Flexibility? Done. Predictability? Yep. Hard numbers that prove ROI? Definitely.

Tough times are when DM shines. They can prove it every inch of the way. That ought to get the attention of skeptics in the C-suite.

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