Live from DMA2010: Lawrence M. Kimmel on Change and Direct Marketing
"I thought I'd start today talking about something I do every day of my life, and something I'll continue to do every morning of every day for the rest of my life," said Lawrence M. Kimmel, CEO of the Direct Marketing Association, to start the Monday morning open general session, "change."
The DMA's message throughout 2010 has been that the new technologies are direct marketing and you need to integrate them. It's practicing what it preaches. The MyDMA smartphone app allows attendees to browse and schedule sessions like a personal assistant (there's similar functionality on the website, but there's precious little opportunity to connect to that at the show, so the move to smartphones really shines). There are social media quote boards around the hall that scroll through things being said about DMA2010 all over the Internet. Several sessions are being streamed around the world, and there will be a Social Media Face-Off later today that will be adjudicated by text message.
People are networking in person all around me, of course, but there's that extra feeling that we're not isolated in that. The show feels next gen—as if this extra coordination, connectivity and social interaction makes this all more productive. It may all just be perception, but perceptions count.
The DMA's just launched a "sitelet," NewDMA.org, that will become the DMA's new website. Eventually it will be customizable, allowing each user to limit the information they see to only the things they're interested in to better parse what can be an overwhelming amount of information from the site. The DMA is also rolling out a new "knowledge bank" that will allow members to see sessions at conferences they could not attend, like this one.
Change has been good and bad for direct marketers. Kimmel spoke about how for 20 years he sat at the kiddie table as a direct marketer while "real marketers" (advertisers) discussed the grown-up strategies. But today he said it turns out, "We were right. ... We understood the importance of analytics underlying marketing communications 40-50 years ago. ... We understood the importance of quantification in marketing before the computer age was upon us."
However, now that all marketing is embracing the precepts of direct marketing, many deny that it is direct marketing. "We are losing the hearts and minds of a new generation of marketers," said Kimmel. "The most progressive digital marketers often don't define themselves as direct marketers." Instead they call themselves mobile marketers or application developers—they just don't see themselves as direct marketers. They don't think of search marketing as direct marketing.
Kimmel also showed how the discipline is misunderstood. Case in point, Kimmel showed a screen capture from Wikipedia's Direct Marketing page, which shows a suggestion at the top of the page that Direct Marketing should be merged with Leaflet Marketing. Kimmel called on the audience to speak up to correct these misperceptions. He wants direct marketers to "write and right Wikipedia." To let Wikipedia know that it is wrong about what direct marketing is.
The truth, according to Kimmel is that direct marketing is, "the channel agnostic approach to driving maximum customer satisfaction and optimal marketplace results." What the people behind Wikipedia don't realize is that "direct marketing is not channel specific, it has never been." The new direct marketing is the new marketing, and it's "more local and more global."
The DMA is launching several new initiatives. There will be an Advertising Option icon for marketers to display with their ads that will allow people to see why they saw the ad they just saw. The DMA is also trying to change the perception of behavioral targeting to let people know it's just advertisers trying to make sure they are serving them relevant ads. "What we're really doing is like a personal shopper," Kimmel quotes Rance Crain as saying, it's something there to help consumers.
Change is all around direct marketing, and Kimmel would like all of us to embrace it.