The ups and downs of today's direct marketing

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The ups and downs of today's direct marketing
The ups and downs of today's direct marketing

Marketing in general, and direct marketing specifically, face their share of challenges—both in- and outside their companies. I recently had the chance to speak with Mona Goldstein, president of The Goldstein Group, about the difficulties and opportunities she's seeing in the industry.

According to Goldstein, one burning internal issue is the need for some marketing departments to reorganize. “Many marketing departments were built for another age,” she said. “They need to make changes to align with what's happening in marketing today.”

Another concern within businesses today is how marketing exists in the bigger ecosystem of a company, versus how it should live inside the company. “Marketing leaders can be clueless about how they need to play with others in the organization,” Goldstein asserted. “They don't get what they need to do to be more effective with their colleagues in sales, finance, IT, etc.”  

Goldstein noted that cross-departmental collaboration is more vital than ever today, as customer expectations continue to rise. Customers view companies holistically; companies need to act that way. As stewards of the brand, as well as many aspects of the customer experience, it behooves marketers to be proactive about collaborating with their peers in other departments.

Customers aren't the only external influence on marketing today. With the proliferation of so many new interaction channels, the industry itself is going through some growing pains. “I feel kind of sad for direct marketing right now,” Goldstein said. “As a term and discipline it's become marginalized in terms of what it could be in this digital age. But, in fact, direct marketing is alive and well; one could argue that this is the Golden Age of direct marketing, as the marketing world has found what data can do. The massive hunt for insight from data is amazing.”

When used well, direct marketing is still “a fantastic channel,” Goldstein insisted. Yet, the changing marketing landscape has prompted the need for direct marketing to do a bit of marketing itself, she said. “Finding a good definition that's not a snore has been ongoing. I think if we could find a better name for direct marketing, it would time to bury that one. It's so fallen off the radar and not respected.  If we could, what it would take to educate and accept it, would be huge undertaking. It's branding.”

Data may shed light on the solution. “There's a huge focus on media-mix analytics,” Goldstein said. “It's where the link between traditional and digital comes together.”

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