Nuts & Bolts - Five-Minute Interview: DM by Any Other Name ...
While no one person can be omniscient about where direct marketing is heading, it's a good idea to check in from time to time with one of the practice's brightest minds: Professor Peter Fader of The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Honored in 2007 with the Robert B. Clarke Outstanding Educator Award by the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation (DMEF), Fader also co-directs the Wharton Interactive Media Initiative. WIMI is a "data-driven research effort on interactive and digital media." And, perhaps most importantly, he has his own Wikipedia page.
Here's his take on the state of direct marketing:
Target Marketing: In your capacity as WIMI faculty co-director, what direct marketing trends are you noticing?
Peter Fader: Well, one of the things I'm noticing makes me really sad, which is: A lot of firms in the e-commerce space and the emerging interactive media space know nothing of the rich tradition of direct marketing. It frightens me when I talk to firms that are such quintessential direct marketers, but have never heard of templates such as RFM and just other classic rubrics that made direct marketing the wonderful science that it is. Individuals and firms that think, 'Oh, it's a whole new world. The old rules don't apply. We have nothing to learn from established firms.' So as much as I'm seeing occasionally good trends from companies trying out new technologies and interesting experiments, and so on, I find, in many cases that the bad that I just described outweighs the good, and it's very unfortunate.
TM: So you're talking about some of the bigger firms?
PF: No; big and small. I think there's a lot of little boutique startups who just haven't done their homework. They just don't understand that a lot of the questions they're asking were answered 40 years ago by classic direct marketing firms. They look at what they're doing, some kind of specialized online something or other and think that it has no connection whatsoever to what some of the great old firms like Franklin Mint was doing back in the 1970s. So I'm not seeing big differences for big firms, little firms; product-oriented, service-oriented. I think, in general, there's just limited respect being paid to some of the well-established principles of direct marketing. And there's too many people who are just basically making things up and selling snake oil, even though they could be doing things a lot better, even using simple methods.