State of the Industry-1999 (2,293 words)
Says Hughes, "The problem with database marketing is that you still need to come up with creative, imaginative ideas for building relationships with customers."
Technology Accelerates Change
Another top concern, mentioned by 38.3 percent of direct marketers surveyed, is how to keep up with technology in a world where change continually accelerates.
"Technology is obviously having a huge impact, and I think it's a huge opportunity for direct marketers," says Devon Direct's Greene. "It's increasing people's focus on the magic of one-to-one marketing and media integration. It gives an opportunity to reach customers in a personal way. What people need to do is remember the fundamentals that made other direct marketing channels work. They have to communicate in a clear, unencumbered manner and utilize the same techniques that incentivize and motivate readers into taking action."
According to our survey, the Internet is now the second-most popular direct marketing method; almost two in three marketers are using it to some degree. However, most are still experimenting with a relatively small chunk of their budget (only 12.5 percent of all direct marketing dollars), and less than half are seeing their dabbling pay off.
The problem, many experts suggest, is not the medium, but the message.
"People have to use direct marketing techniques on Web sites to drive the viewer to take appropriate action," says Greene.
Right now, many commercial sites are struggling because they use technology for technology's sake and neglect to conform to the basic tenets of direct marketing. When Internet marketers apply sound creative techniques, says Hochhauser of Harte-Hanks, the medium will explode.
"The question is not 'if,' but 'when' for the Internet," he explains. "I think it will be a challenge to see how the mix works with direct mail, the telephone and now the Internet. The concept of brand identity will be extended—one and one will equal three when you convey brand image across media. It's a challenge and an opportunity and it's definitely going to be part of our future. When a new medium comes along, the pie gets bigger. Nothing seems to go away. Television didn't kill radio and Internet won't kill the telephone or direct mail."