Spotlight Conversation: Reaching the inattentive
Q: You were recently named 2008 Direct Marketer of the Year by the New England Direct Marketing Association. What do you believe are the qualities of a great direct marketer?
A: People who are creative, perhaps artistic, but also like to problem solve. They like challenges and metrics. It's a little bit of a cliché, but it is a combination of left brain and right brain. If you're a writer and art director, but also a direct marketer, you enjoy crafting that communication — but it's also very important that it solves a particular problem or pulls particular results for your client. Today, you also have to be open to be people's changing habits. When I started in the business, copy really was king, and I think people read more than they do now and considered your offer for longer. People today have shorter attention spans and there are so many messages bombarding them that they have to cut to the chase a lot faster.
Q: What have you worked on recently that you are really proud of?
A: We did a campaign for Forrester with direct mail and e-mail recently that we were excited about. There's been a huge move to e-mail because it's so much less expensive, especially in b-to-b. The direct mail piece did really well. We thought, “Yay, direct mail still works!”
Q: What is unique about the direct marketing industry in New England?
A: New England has the oldest regional DMA in the country. People here have high expectations of how well direct marketing can do as well as how good it should look. We have great talent, so if you want to be a direct marketer this is a great place to do it because you're surrounded by very smart people who have been in the business a long time.
Q: What is the biggest mistake you've made on the job?
A: I've really regretted when I let something like a client's schedule dictate what we did, as opposed to doing what we thought was the right thing. For example, offers are a very important part of a direct marketing program, and sometimes clients don't know what their offer is yet but they're in a hurry and want you to do everything and plug in the offer later. The times we've done that to please the client in the short term, we've short-changed the client in the long term. If someone hires you to give them your best advice, you have to deliver on that.
Q: What's the best advice you could give to a fellow direct marketer?
A: It isn't about you, it's about the customer. You have to do everything to get into the customer's shoes and get into their mindset. You have to have multiple personalities.
Q: Where do you see DM going in the next three years?
A: I think that everything we've done in terms of being able to work in and combine different media is going to become even more important. People have to focus on what's their strategy, how they are communicating and what matters most to the person they're talking to.