Direct Marketer of the Year: Brian Kurtz, executive vice president, Boardroom Inc.
The mentor who Kurtz calls his "judgment consultant" was none other than Adolph Auerbacher, a top executive from publishing giant Meredith Corp. Two of Auerbacher's dictums are balanced against every business idea Kurtz considers:
1. Follow the anecdotal evidence. "I guess it's in the same genre as Denny Hatch's and Dorothy Kerr's ‘steal smart' concept. The idea of following the anecdotal evidence, putting together the puzzle that's right in front of you ... there are so many clues out there that tell you what direction to go in and what products to launch. This is so important for a marketer," Kurtz explains.
2. Where does the money flow? "In my opinion, this should be raised at every brainstorming meeting. Not to say you have to make money on everything, because you might want to do something altruistic. But you should be asking, ‘How does this idea work? Who gets what? Will everyone be happy? Is this something I want to spend my time on?' And if you just ask the question, ‘Where does the money flow?' it changes the discussion from a straight brainstorming meeting to an action meeting. If more people asked that in the late '90s, about where does the money flow, I have a feeling there would have been fewer bankruptcies in the dot-com world," he reasons.
The Man Who Exemplifies ‘Giving Back'
If you wanted to learn about postal issues or the ins and outs of lettershop work, Lee Epstein was your first phone call when he ran MailMen Inc. in the 1980s and 1990s. But he also meant a great deal more to the direct marketing industry, having been a loyal supporter of education programs through industry initiatives and the development of his own foundation, Direct Marketers Gateway Inc. (of which Kurtz was a board member and helped with its merger with the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation).