DMA•06 show examines confluence of brand and direct, global and local

SAN FRANCISCO – Themes of brand mixing with direct, international direct marketing and the impact of search were discussed at the DMA•06 show last week amid a backdrop of enthusiasm.

With industry spending projected by the Direct Marketing Association to grow 5.2 percent to $175.2 billion for 2007, the upbeat atmosphere in San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center was not unfounded. However, hurdles still exist, according to the association’s president/CEO.

“We may never run out of places to put advertising messages,” John A. Greco Jr. said. “But we are very near to the limits of human ability to absorb them all. Something has to change.”

One trend cited in several case studies, including Subaru of America and Capital One, was that of direct tactics working together with brand strategies.

“If your brand promise doesn’t resonate with your target audience, then your brand will fail,” said Tom Klug of CFM Direct, Capital One’s direct agency. “If you can make the brand promise tie in to a good offer, acquisition is going to be really easy.”

Martin Nitsche, CEO of Proximity Germany, said despite the rise of global brands, direct marketing tactics hold strength in their ability to localize efforts and retain cultural relevance.

“It is a complicated thing,” Mr. Nitsche said. “On the one hand, we have to get global recognition and brand consistency; on the other side, we have to emphasize local cultures.”

Other international insights were offered at the show’s sessions. For example, Patrick Bartlett, vice president of the catalog and Borderfree divisions at Canada Post, encouraged U.S. catalogs to explore a ripe Canadian market. While 84 percent of Canadians open and read mail, only 135 major consumer catalogs exist in Canada as opposed to 13,000 in the United States, he said.

“The IKEA catalog is a coffee table book here,” Mr. Bartlett said.

One area the U.S. market trails other countries is mobile marketing.

“In Europe the mobile device is king, so we have done a lot to optimize the feature of how content appears in BlackBerries and on mobile phones,” said Tricia Robinson, an e-mail marketing veteran soon leaving Premiere Global Services.

John Battelle, co-founder of Wired and chairman and publisher of Federated Media, ended the show with a keynote about the importance of search. He said conversation more than conversion is the new currency online. Search lets new consumers declare their intent directly.

“Marketing has become a dialogue instead of being a one-sided persuasion,” he said.

–Melissa Campanelli and Dianna Dilworth also reported

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