The Dazzling New Generation of Direct Marketers
I have been in direct marketing for more than 50 years.
During that period, I have participated in dozens of marketing conferences all over the world and been a presenter at many of them.
In early June 2014, I went to New York's Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street for Integrated Marketing Week 2014. At the entrance to the exhibit hall, I picked up a Show Guide and went to the Target Marketing Booth to decide which sessions to attend.
Reading through the descriptions of the various presentations, it became evident the new technology has left me in the starting gate.
I am no longer relevant.
These new marketers know so much more than I ever knew; I have no way of ever catching up.
Two samples from the session descriptions:
Hear from a senior level Farmer's Insurance marketing executive about their journey, significantly lifting web and local office traffic, while improving engagement and conversion, through an integrated digital marketing approach centered in strong audience understanding and content strategy guiding execution of organic and local search, social and content marketing. Learn how a mix of internal teams and agency partnerships help the firm innovate to maximize brand awareness and grow the customer base.
Meet the Affinity LoopTM—a foundation for journey-based experience design. In this session, we'll share the findings of the first annual CXM Study, designed to diagnose the points of pain, influence and apathy in the intersecting path to purchase and ownership lifecycle that comprise the customer journey. We'll examine how journeys are similar and vary across industries, and reveal some quantified opportunities for customer-focused brands to elicit the emotional loyalty and irrational brand preference that result from a more connected and meaningful experience in the moments that matter most.
I dropped in on a number sessions. As an old-time junk mailer with off-the-page copywriting and design experience, here is what hit me:
- The PowerPoint presentations on many screens were covered with flow charts and graphs in mouse-type so small I could not read it, even though I sat up front.
- Occasionally a presenter would helpfully recite what was on the screen.
- I guessed others in the audience knew all these images and data cold and they were up there simply as decoration or as reminders.
- My sad, simplistic 20th century experience is useless in this 21st century era of whiz-bang data-driven marketing.
- The fast-talking young marketers delivered messages with great enthusiasm, intensity and content. Unfortunately I do not have any advanced academic degrees. All the presentations went way over my head, making as much sense to me as Sid Caesar and Durwood Fincher.
- Nobody talked about old, boring stuff that no longer matters: "offers," "lists," "orders," "guarantee," "price testing," "customer satisfaction," "direct mail," "profit margins" or "allowable order cost."
- Rather, this was two days of amazing discoveries in the worlds of Big Data and social media. For example:
When it comes to data's role in the creative process, we tend to prefer Merlin to Mathmen and Mathwomen. While it may not be the "new creative," data, and the scientists who mine it can uncover big ideas and continually assist in the building of the creative story for deeper relevance and bigger business results. The fear that numbers will be used to kill a creative idea is alleviated by the dynamism of today's continuous and multidimensional data that offers insights to inspire and evolve creative innovations. More importantly, this data gives objective decision support that presents a truer reflection of the consumer's journey and potential response. The future of our industry will depend on the synergy of data analytics and creative, and the fact that numbers and great creative can not only coexist, but also co-create.
What stuck in my brain was a PowerPoint slide with photograph of a CEO.
Underneath the portrait was the text of his overarching corporate philosophy, which the presenter reverentially read in a voice reminiscent of The Sermon on the Mount:
While some may see e-commerce as a straightforward vending machine-like experience, we believe it is a living process where both retailers and consumers can communicate, discover, and curate to make the experience more entertaining.
Integrated Marketing Week 2014 was produced by The Direct Marketing Association (DMA).
Be sure to click on the image in the media player at right to see the DMA house ad on page 3 of the Show Guide.
Clearly the headline applies to me.
A Geezer's Takeaways for New Marketers to Reject
- "Your job is to sell, not entertain." —Jack Maxson
- "I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information." —David Ogilvy
- "I don't want a relationship with the guy who sells me aspirin. I just want my headache cured." —Emily Soell
- "Power corrupts. PowerPoint corrupts absolutely." —Edward Tufte
- Obey the 10-20-30 rule of PowerPoint presentations:
—No more than 10 slides
—No longer than 20 minutes
—No type smaller than 30 point
- Even my 20th century English no longer applies. For example, I once learned "datum" is one and "data" are more than one.
- It was not a lot of fun discovering I am vestigial.
Denny Hatch's new book is "Write Everything Right!" Drayton Bird writes, "Full of good, often unexpected stuff—like how to launch a book; Obama's press releases; why not to use asterisks; when to write a headline; the difference between "think" and "thought"; six Wall Street Journal headlines (and why they are lousy); how to detect copyright infringement." Click here to download (opens as a PDF) and read the first three chapters FREE. The title is also available on Kindle. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.