Nuts & Bolts - Five-Minute Interview: DM by Any Other Name ...
TM: What do you see changing for direct marketers in the near future?
PF: So one big step along the way, as I said, is really embracing multiplatform. So it's not enough; we no longer have a single relationship with the customer. There's just so many different touchpoints that, on one hand, do fit well with traditional direct marketing practices. We can track the individuals and anticipate where they're going over time and decide which ones to go after and which ones to cast aside. But there's just so many new tactics out there. Many of which involve the empowered consumer, the empowered customer, that direct marketers still aren't—in fact, a lot of marketers—still aren't quite comfortable with. You know what happens when the customer is really driving the relationship instead of the firm. It used to be up to the firm to decide when and how to contact each customer and so on. But when you flip it all around, thanks to Web 2.0 and all of that, it just makes it a lot tougher. And so we need to change our practices to allow, not only all of the old monitoring and measuring and projecting that we did before, but to do it on the customer's terms. Whatever platform they want to use, whatever mode of communication and transactions that make them most comfortable; we need to change our business to meet their needs.
TM: How do you envision direct marketing evolving during the next decade?
PF: It depends whether I have my optimistic hat on or not. The rosy picture is that we have this enlightenment that I've been referring to. The idea that we have to drop the word direct, keep the practices, keep the really great analytical approaches that we have, but make it more broadly applicable. And to get everybody, all firms, to acknowledge that basically what they're doing is what we used to call direct marketing. We don't call it that anymore because it's kind of a, I hate to say it, but kind of an old-fashioned and somewhat pejorative word. So the good picture would be that we learn from the past, but adapt it to the future and blend in some new statistical methods with the old, well-established ones. Come up with an entirely new vocabulary. And there's just so many firms out there that they're doing direct marketing, as far as I'm concerned. But they disassociate themselves from that. And it would be great to get these firms to stand tall and be willing to call themselves, again whether it's direct marketers or some word that we can all agree on and have more shared practices, instead of a lot of this us vs. them games that seem to be going on today.