A New Decade for Direct: Marketers/Copywriters Embrace Change

We didn’t need Time Magazine to tell us that the last decade was a rough one for the United States (and for the rest of the world as a result). Never before has such a toxic blend of incompetence, arrogance and corruption been on constant display, whether in the Oval Office, the halls of Congress, military headquarters, corporate boardrooms or national banks offices.

Thus, we find ourselves in a pickle, and despite the fervent wishes for 2010 to be “The Year of the Recovery,” it’s unlikely to occur.

However, there is a silver lining for direct marketers, and it’s a significant one: our industry. Direct marketing is now becoming the chosen advertising method for many companies, including such major ones like Pepsi, which recently opted out of the Super Bowl ad market for the first time in more than 20 years and instead is going with a CRM program.

Emerging digital technologies, integrated data management, multichannel campaigning and social media, when combined with traditional direct, makes for a formidable marketing force that renders general advertising less relevant and less effective for the customer.

Recently, I spoke with some leading direct marketers and copywriters about 2010 and their predictions for this industry. Despite shrunken budgets and job loss, most remain sanguine as well as open-minded.

1. Help Wanted … Online
“The exciting news for anyone with a direct marketing perspective is that our talents and knowledge are desperately needed online,” remarks Gary Hennerberg, president of the direct marketing agency The Hennerberg Group. “There seems to be a lot of ineffective online work being done, and the demand for talent to produce better results is already being felt.”

Ruth Sheldon, copywriter and president of Ruth K. Sheldon & Associates, agrees. She understands that online marketing provides an inexpensive, quick and easy alternative to direct mail—yet she also sees many marketers misusing this new communications device, including some of whom have foolishly shoved direct mail off the stage. For direct to succeed, all must be integrated. “While direct mail will never again be the solo performer as it once was, it can effectively share the stage with email, the web, social and mobile marketing platforms,” asserts Sheldon.

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