Cover Story: The Big Qs of 2012

Lois Brayfield, president and chief creative officer, J. Schmid & Assoc.

Ernan Roman, president of Ernan Roman Direct Marketing

Carolyn Goodman, president and creative director, Goodman Marketing Partners

Russell Perkins, founder and managing director, InfoCommerce Group, Inc.

Ken Lane, senior marketing consultant, J. Schmid & Assoc.

Lawrence M. Kimmel, CEO, Direct Marketing Association

How you answer these questions will shape your business for the next year and beyond

Is the Great Recession finally over? At the time of this writing, December holiday shopping is off to a good start and unemployment has eased a little—but it’s impossible to say if that will last. What we can say—after consulting with industry leaders, marketers, consultants and analysts to determine the biggest questions marketers face in 2012—is that the recession has become a smaller question on the minds of marketers than it was last year.

“Marketers seem to be getting back into the game,” says Lois Brayfield, president and chief creative officer of Mission, Kan.-based direct marketing agency J. Schmid & Assoc. “We’ve witnessed an unbelievable resurgence into brands spending more, trying new things and investing in their businesses. I think this bodes well for our industry.”

It’s not that everyone is profiting again, but companies that have survived this far have adapted to the down economy. Many have turned their attention to opportunities offered by a horde of marketing tools that emerged during the last five years, and to the perils of a world where the USPS might price direct mail out of existence and privacy lapses keep tempting Congress to put the kibosh on data collection.

It’s time to look forward to the opportunities and threats emerging in 2012. If you want to be prepared for them, these are the questions to be asking your marketing team now:

1. How Do You Communicate 
Across Channels?
“Today’s consumers are more multichannel than ever before,” says Ernan Roman, president of Ernan Roman Direct Marketing in Douglas Manor, NY. Citing “Voice of the Customer” interview research his company has done on behalf of its clients, Roman says many interviewees “reported using multiple media, often at the same time, to browse and purchase. Marketers will have to get much better at being agnostic and surrounding 
consumers with multichannel choices.”

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.
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