Direct Marketer of the Year: Brian Kurtz, executive vice president, Boardroom Inc.
Like All Good Marketers, Kurtz Started With a List
After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Rutgers University in 1980 with a degree in English, Kurtz naturally began prospecting for jobs with publishing companies, which is how he landed his first job with a play publisher. But it was merely a blip on his career radar, as he was approached not long after by a headhunter who had been successfully finding talent for a scrappy, young newsletter firm called Boardroom Reports Inc. The job the headhunter had in mind for Kurtz: list manager. "You could have knocked me over with a feather," recalls Kurtz. "If I could have told you what list management was in 1981 ... nobody I knew [had any idea] what it was. And while there were more in-house list managers back then, there still weren't that many."
And yet after meeting Edelston and other key people at Boardroom, Kurtz could see that a job in this company might lead to something bigger. "When I went to Boardroom, the thought was that eventually I would move into the editorial area. I figured, ‘Let me get into the door here, it looks like a great, cool company.' What appealed to me was that it clearly was a young, dynamic company ... and after meeting Marty, who was so entrepreneurial and so creative ... I said, ‘I'll take this job in list management and see where it leads,'" he says.
A year passed as Kurtz learned the ropes of list management and marketing. And then a junior spot opened up in the editorial department at Boardroom, the type of break for which Kurtz had been waiting. He went to Edelston and expressed his interest in changing departments. Kurtz remembers, "I'm what, 23, 24 years old, and Marty looks at me and says, ‘I think you have a nose for marketing. I think that you should stay on that side of the business.' It was crazy, because here's this tremendous guy telling me that I'm really good at what I'm doing, and he sees a better career opportunity for me if I stay in list management."