Direct Marketer of the Year: Brian Kurtz, executive vice president, Boardroom Inc.
Second, Kurtz remembers asking Benson at the end of the day, "How do you know so much?" He continues, "I'll never forget this because I use it as a concept all the time with people. He looked at me and took his thumb and his index finger and he put them maybe two inches apart, and he said, ‘I know everything about this much.' The idea of being a jack-of-all-trades versus knowing everything about something was a really interesting concept to learn early in my career. And as I spent more time in the industry ... I didn't want to try to be a little bit of this and a little bit of that. And you could always move your fingers out a little more, go out four inches, six inches, maybe 10 inches ... knowing everything about whatever this much is, was a great concept. That's who Benson thought he was."
The other Boardroom consultant who influenced Kurtz's approach to direct marketing is another circulation wizard, Gordon Grossman. While at The Reader's Digest Association, Grossman pioneered many firsts in direct marketing: He was the first person to use regression analysis, mass personalization and a sweepstakes in direct mail campaigns-techniques that are all standard practice today. It was Grossman who convinced Kurtz and Edelston they needed to invest in the database marketing infrastructure to handle analytics such as modeling and segmentation. Kurtz remembers, "Gordon sent us a memo right around when I hired him in 1989 or 1990, which contained a comment like, ‘If you're not in database marketing, Brian and Boardroom, you're out of business in 10 years.' It was like getting scared straight."
Kurtz gives credit to Grossman for helping Boardroom become a state-of-the-art database marketing operation, and also to Edelston for seeing the value this investment would deliver in the future.