Direct Marketer of the Year: Brian Kurtz, executive vice president, Boardroom Inc.
In addition to getting their issues in front of their government representatives, Kurtz also encourages marketers to understand how committees affect the legislative process, determining which key congressmen and congresswomen are on the committees that oversee different aspects of business that affect the direct marketing industry.
When it comes to education, Kurtz has put some sweat equity into his commitment, having taught a full semester at his alma mater in 1989. And he continues to devote time as often as possible to industry speaking engagements and teaching opportunities. He firmly believes that the daily practitioners of direct marketing will be doing the industry a disservice if they do not lend their insights and talents to the academicians charged with training the next generation of direct marketers.
"We want to attract the best and the brightest to this part of the industry," he says, "and to do that, I don't think the people in the academic world will have the experience and on-the-job training ... given the nature of our business, which is very practical."
Rounding out Kurtz's industry service is a seat on the Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) Committee on Ethical Business Practice, a group that helps self-police the industry both by initiating membership action against offenders as well as working with government agencies to address extreme behavior.
"What we do on the ethics committee at the DMA unfortunately is only the tip of the iceberg, but if you don't do something, you can't complain later on," he states.
Direct Marketing's Appeal
Having spent virtually his entire career at a company that sells all its products through direct channels, Kurtz undeniably has been bitten by the direct response bug. When asked what about direct marketing has kept him in the game for close to three decades, he responds, "Clearly it's the feedback. After 26 years in direct marketing, it's hard to talk to anybody about general advertising or public relations or anything that's not measurable advertising. I don't like to come off as a direct marketing snob ... but that is what kept me in the business, being able to have metrics that tell me if a campaign was a success."