Eric Schmitt

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

Target Marketing magazine reached out to some of the most knowledgeable people in the direct marketing industry to find out what they believe are the biggest issues facing direct marketers today and what questions your company needs to be able to answer to thrive in the coming year and beyond.

It's as if marketing experts have been fooling around in the chemistry lab, mixing up potions to try to figure out what strategies will work best. And it seems as though they've discovered the future: integrated, customer-
centric marketing.

It's no secret among direct marketers that direct mail has been having its struggles, with production and postage costs going up while response rates sink because of prospects becoming less consumerist than in any time in our recent history as a country.

The maven of mean, actress Shannen Doherty, slapped good luck into Charter Communications' churn reduction efforts with one stroke of her lip gloss. Back in June 2007, when the St. Louis-based cable company was testing what's become its flagship loyalty program, "Live It With Charter," the company discovered that the face of loyalty strategies could be covered with star-struck offers unique to the industry, such as Doherty's "Kiss Them Goodbye" berry lip gloss. Those type of offers then joined Charter's product and service giveaways, as well as the travel and electronics prizes that most loyalty programs include.

Using data, you can focus solidly on the customer -- not the product -- to make more effective offers. Back in the 20th century, sales and marketing geniuses were American business heroes—they built great sales forces that built great companies, and created great ads that built great brands. But during the past 25 years, technology changed the rules. Now and forevermore, marketing geniuses will be guided not by intuition but by predictive analytics. In the future, marketing geniuses increasingly will use an understanding of customer behavior to offer the right product, at the right price, at the optimum time. Forrester Research analyst Eric Schmitt

New Technologies By Lisa Yorgey Lester Technology has been the biggest catalyst of change to the direct marketing industry. The introduction of the personal computer has enabled marketers to process large quantities of data and thereby maximize the advantages of direct marketing. Data analytics, marketing automation and optimization technologies not only give marketers unprecedented access to data, but allow them to manage and manipulate it. They've been able to market more efficiently and smarter as a result. Marketers can better leverage their customer information and campaign histories to make more relevant offers to customers and prospects. Here's a look at some of the

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