What Is ‘Contemporary Direct Marketing’? DMA CEO Larry Kimmel Talks About the Industry Changes Behind the All For One Conference

Lawrence M. Kimmel, CEO, Direct Marketing Association

On June 20-21, the DMA conference formerly known as DM Days New York will relaunch as All For One: The Integrated Marketing Summit (still presented by DM Days). Target Marketing caught up with DMA CEO Larry Kimmel to talk about the shifts in the industry that drove that change, what he sees happening in “contemporary direct marketing,” and what direct marketers need to do differently to prosper in this shifting environment.

Target Marketing: For years this event was called the Direct Marketing Day. Now it’s All For One: The Integrated Marketing Summit. What is the thinking behind that change?

Larry Kimmel: Contemporary marketing, I believe, is comprised of three components, and that’s data, customer-centricity and accountability. And that’s always been what direct marketing has been about. The people who really do this well, and bring it all together, are really direct marketers. You know, it’s interesting, there are a whole lot of shows in social or mobile or search or email or online or in print or in mail, but the truth is that to succeed today in marketing, you have to bring it all together. And you have to leverage data across the full complement of channels through online and offline, to have a customer experience that is consistent regardless of which touchpoint they reach you through.

TM: You’re talking about defining direct marketing as something that is data-driven, customer-centric and accountable. I would say the traditional definition of direct marketing also includes that it’s actionable, in that it’s driving a specific trackable conversion like mailing in a card or ordering. Would you remove that “actionable” aspect from the definition?

LK: No, there’s definitely action. [But] it depends on how you’re defining “action.” if you’re defining “action” to say that direct marketing require a sale, then I don’t think that’s a requirement necessarily. If you define “action” as activity that’s trackable and measurable, I think that would be more appropriate.

I think the appropriate contemporary definition of direct marketing is channel-agnostic and driving to the maximum improvement in customer satisfaction and return on investment.

TM: When I’m looking at the sessions of All For One, I see the E*TRADE talking baby, the Dominoes apology campaign, etc. Those have all been smash pop culture successes—everyone is aware of these campaigns—but I think most people would think of them as TV marketing campaigns that are really driving knowledge of the brand. How are these direct marketing?

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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