What Shaped Direct Mail in 2012? Q&A With ALC’s Susan Rappaport

We worked closely with ALC to compile and research the 2012 list of Top 50 Mailers, and that included the opportunity to speak with Susan Rappaport, owner, president and CEO of ALC for the past 16 years. Before that she was senior VP at Direct Media, VP of catalog marketing at Eddie Bauer, and brand manager at The Clorox Company.

Here’s what she had to say about the trends and events that shaped direct mail over the past 12 months.

Target Marketing: Do you see any important trends in the list of Top 50 Mailers for 2012?

Susan Rappaport: No. It’s representative of many categories, and in any one year, businesses increase and decrease.

TM: What are the most important things that have changed about direct mailers and direct mail this year?

SR: Well, we’ve got an economic situation that’s unprecedented … They’re not technically calling it a recession anymore, but we don’t have an economic recovery right now.

We’ve also got an election cycle. The presidential election only happens every four years, and that’s got a lot of activity in the marketplace from mailers and in the spending levels.

TM: Are those election cycles something that impact direct mail every four years?

SR: Yes. Every four years with the Presidential elections, but then every two years we also have Congressional and Senatorial, which are every six years. So they’re always sort of every two years, but it’s every four you’ve got the presidential. Especially this year when you’ve got the Super PACs (political action committees) spending money and doing things, that’s sort of unprecedented.

TM: In what ways does that impact other marketers’ mailings?

SR: It doesn’t necessarily impact them, but it has everybody sort of on alert. It can sometimes slow down delivery because there’s just a lot more volume going on. And we did see in the spring-with some of the postal reform and postal changes-some slow down in delivery. I think the USPS even came out and said there will be some slowdown. So that’s impacting it.

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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