Reprinted from Strategies newsletter, DMA Issue, © November 2000 by First Marketing, 3300 Gateway Drive, Pompano Beach, FL 33069.

DMA 2000 examined tried-and-true tactics and emerging trends

Between booth hopping, hobnobbing and giveaway-gathering, DMA attendees participated in 12 concurrent educational tracks offered at this yearís conference. Sessions addressed everything from effective creative and production techniques to database technology and e-commerce solutions.

Speakers representing a variety of industries shared insight about what works, what doesnít, where we were, where we are, and where we are heading in the fast-paced world of direct marketing. And, while it seems there were as many varying opinions as there were sessions this year, a few trends emerged.

Itís all about the customer

The good news is that the customer continues to be a huge focus in the universe of direct marketing. As technology improves and companies recognize the value of enhancing customer relationships, the shift continues toward establishing meaningful dialogue with customers. Several sessions highlighted trends in both b-to-b and b-to-c direct marketing, utilizing customer data to drive personalized communication over time.

One session, Selling to Suits, emphasized that proven consumer tactics also work in the business markets. Nancy Harhut of Mullen Advertising challenged the audience to stretch beyond the traditional business DM letter package and to use humor, graphics, shorter messages with a punch and other b-to-c tactics. She backed up her challenge with metrics from successful campaigns that would make any marketing director a corporate hero.

Making the migration to electronic marketing

In addition to pushing the limits of traditional direct mail, the four-day conference introduced attendees to the latest strategies being developed in the electronic universe.

Whether itís a mailbox or an in-box, the key to effective direct marketing is getting attention. Generic messages were commonplace during the infancy of electronic communications. But now as database technology marries with Web strategies, companies find it easier to target messages to their customers. Expectations indicate that this cost-effective trend will continue to mature, with a goal of one-to-one, real-time, data-driven electronic messages.

With a wealth of educational opportunities, attendees of this yearís show were the winners, even if they didnít bring home a Palm Pilotģ (our booth giveaway!). At minimum, they were exposed to new ideas and challenged to examine their existing strategies. The bottom line: Despite all the technological advances, marketing remains an art, not a science.

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