Picking the Brain: Kathy Calta, CMO of Vertis
With the direct mail landscape changing fast, new technologies playing bigger roles and the shifting dynamic of choosy prospects, I thought it was a good time to pick the brain of a veteran direct marketer: Kathy Calta, who in 2009 was named Chief Marketing Officer at Vertis Communications, a provider of targeted advertising and marketing solutions to leading retail and consumer services companies.
Previously, Calta was a partner at Rosetta Marketing, an interactive marketing company that specializes in personalized marketing solutions. Prior to Rosetta, Kathy was at Harte-Hanks for 22 years serving in senior leadership roles, including corporate officer of the company, both as senior vice president and executive vice president. In 2005, Kathy was named a recipient of a Stevie Award for Women Entrepreneurs, specifically "Best Executive" in the category of "Service Businesses — More than 2,500 Employees."
Boldt: How much have things changed in direct marketing since you began?
Calta: Dramatically. We went from geographic-based resident mail to hard-core CRM, a central repository and managing the engagement with customers across all channels: point-of-sale, call centers, outbound direct mail, website inbound and so on.
Boldt: Does direct mail remain as viable today amidst this dominant digital presence?
Calta: Certainly it does. Our research looks at consumers by generation and how they interact by channel. We are seeing Gen Y and Gen X not only responding to direct mail but actually exceeding that the response from baby boomers and seniors. These younger generations read it, and then immediately use it to make purchasing decisions.
What are today's marketers investing in? What are their marketing budgets? Well, they're still spending a lot on direct mail. There's also an increase in cable TV, as well as interactive and direct marketing. These marketers are pulling their dollars from broadcast, radio, yellow pages and magazines — not direct mail.
Boldt: Why is that?
Calta: It's simple, really. It's measurable and it still works. And direct marketing is not forgotten by consumers.