Direct Marketer of the Year: Brian Kurtz, executive vice president, Boardroom Inc.
In addition to soaking up more perspectives, Kurtz also began honing the networking skills that have played a significant role in his career.
The Mentoring Continues
Just as he expanded his circle of experts on the list side, Kurtz sought the insights of every consultant on the Boardroom payroll. "And when he couldn't meet with them," says Edelston, "he read their books. He's read about every direct marketing book that's out."
One of the consultants he did meet with extensively was the late Richard (Dick) Benson. Certainly, there have been many incredible people who have contributed to the advancement of direct marketing-but Benson is a legend. He started Benson-Stagg, the first direct mail advertising agency, and was the circulation mastermind behind the launches of Smithsonian, Southern Living and Psychology Today magazines, as well as Boardroom's Bottom Line/Personal.
"One day with Dick Benson is a whole college education," says Edelston.
And so the mountain went to Muhammad, as Kurtz describes his first meeting with Benson. He and Boardroom's circulation director would travel to Benson's offices and then spend eight hours going through their marketing plans; they would ask questions, and the guru would rattle off answers based on his experience.
Two main points stick with Kurtz from his first visit. "I couldn't believe how much the guy knew. He had been in the business for 50 years, and it seemed like he remembered every test he ever made. So if you asked him about an idea, he would say something like, ‘Well, I tried that in 1969 and in 1972, and this is what happened. Even though it didn't work for me, I think you should try it.' He was never closed-minded, but he was able to have a frame of reference that was unlike that of any other person I was able to deal with," marvels Kurtz.