Editor's Notes: Claim Your Birthright
Where did this buzz phrase “measurable marketing” come from? The discipline of interacting with prospects and customers directly to make sales and gather data to inform future marketing contact has been called direct marketing since it was coined back in 1967 by advertising legend Lester Wunderman. Yes, it was an ad man taking a shine to the mail order business who named the practice and went on to perfect it. But by and large, most of his Madison Avenue brethren turned up their noses at direct mail, the predominant form of direct marketing until the Internet came along. As so often noted, direct marketing was the redheaded stepchild of the advertising and marketing world.
So why are Fortune 100 CMOs and advertising agencies now trumpeting measurable marketing? An August 2004 story in Advertising Age, written by James B. Arndorfer, foreshadows today’s role reversal:
Marketing-agency revenue derived from direct initiatives—including direct mail, telemarketing, direct-response TV and e-mail—hit an all-time peak of $2.87 billion in 2003, up 15% from the prior year and a hair above the $2.79 billion mark in 2000, according to Ad Age estimates. Meanwhile, advertising and media revenue slid 2.7% to $10.05 billion in 2003, below the 2000 peak of $10.43 billion, the figures show.
Ah ha! Now that companies both large and small want to reduce the waste and inefficiency in their advertising and marketing programs, direct or “measurable” marketing is getting bigger chunks of the overall promotion budget. And everybody wants to be on the side that’s winning.
So, direct marketing is kind of like the new exchange student from France, whom everyone wants to befriend and, perhaps, monopolize. Learn how to say hello and goodbye in French, and suddenly your perception is that you’re practically fluent in the language.
But what about those kids in the school’s French Club, who actually are fluent? I might be getting a little carried away with my analogy, but this is what I see happening with long-term direct marketing practitioners; they’re ceding their home field advantage in more than just name. By clinging to business the way they’ve always done it and shying away from some new direct playing formations, like social media and search engine marketing, they’re losing ground on customer acquisition and retention to competitors who used to equate direct marketing with selling Ginsu knives. Now, they all wish they had the success of the Snuggie.