“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails,” goes the quote from leadership guru John C. Maxwell. It’s good advice to keep in mind at the present, when many of the usual challenges of marketing direct are becoming more and more difficult to tackle. With the cost of just about everything going up, businesses aren’t going to have any easy options for cutting back.
Staying strong during a down economy and a rapidly shifting marketing environment requires not only efficiency from every member of the team, but also the exploration of new ideas and ways of doing things at all levels of the business. While the best-in-class organizations strive for continual improvement year in and year out, most of us need a push to take accurate stock of where we are and develop big changes. Well, direct marketers are certainly getting the shove.
The question is, are we going to be pessimists, optimists or leaders? If you’re leaning toward the latter option but need a little inspiration to take on the job, look no further than the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation’s Rising Stars for 2008. They include Draftfcb’s Janet Barker-Evans; Rodale’s Todd Leiser; Google’s Joseph Pak; NextMark’s Joe Pych; and Datacore Marketing’s Jeff Yowell. Each professional has made significant contributions to the direct marketing process by refusing to do business the same old way it’s always been done.
The same can be said about many of Target Marketing’s Direct Marketer of the Year winners. Brian Kurtz integrated infomercials into Boardroom’s media mix when the death of DRTV was still being predicted. The American Red Cross’ Margaret Carter led an organization-wide overhaul of the nonprofit’s approach to new donors. And Pat Corpora helped turn the concept of continuity programs on its ear in his revival of HCI Direct.