Editor’s Notes: Who Inspires You?
In less than a month, the editorial team and I will begin the challenging but wholly rewarding task of reviewing nominations for our annual Direct Marketer of the Year Award. The challenging part is selecting just one individual to recognize for his or her achievements in the field. But the reward, which makes the hard labor and agonizing over candidates completely worthwhile, is that we get the opportunity to learn about the fascinating work being conducted by numerous direct marketers.
For example, last year’s winner was Margaret Carter, who heads up the American Red Cross’ direct response fundraising unit. She led her unit in a major restructuring of the nonprofit’s approach to new donor communication in response to the influx of millions of donors after Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami disasters, helping its chapters at the local level better connect with these new donors and convert them to regular supporters. And in 2005, we honored HCI Direct’s president and CEO, Pat Corpora, who leveraged the tremendous insights he honed at Rodale and AOL to turn around the struggling women’s hosiery continuity firm. By focusing on both customer and employee satisfaction, core direct marketing principles and database building, he grew share of market and share of customer by leaps and bounds.
One reason Carter and Corpora gave for achieving success in their careers is the presence of mentors in their early years of learning the direct marketing business. And I would bet they both continue to gain wisdom from their staff, industry colleagues and the casual business acquaintance. To continually grow and improve, we must be exposed to a variety of ideas and opinions that inspire us to push a little harder and reach a little further. That’s certainly true of many of the other outstanding individuals we’ve named as Direct Marketer of the Year over the past decade and a half, who include Beth O’Rorke from The Economist; Brook Holmberg, now with Yankee Publishing Group but who had been with The Christian Science Monitor when he graced our cover; and one of our early winners, Boardroom Inc.’s pioneering Martin Edelston.