Jim Gilbert

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.

Melissa Campanelli is Editor-in-Chief of Total Retail. She is an industry veteran, having covered all aspects of retail, tech, digital, e-commerce, and marketing over the past 20 years. Melissa is also the co-founder of the Women in Retail Leadership Circle.

You may have noticed over the last few months that when you look at a person's LinkedIn profile, you're asked, "Does ‘Joe Blow’ have skills or expertise?" It's a blue box at the top of your screen, you can't miss it. Or you may have received an email telling you that you've "been endorsed for specific skills." This is a great feature on Linkedin, and I'll tell you why shortly. But first let's take a step back and discuss your LinkedIn profile. When you create or update your LinkedIn profile, there's a section to add skills and expertise

Social media raise a lot of questions for direct marketers, not the least of which is, "Is it really direct marketing?" Well, Jim Gilbert has some answers for you. He's CEO of Gilbert Direct Marketing, current president of the Florida Direct Marketing Association and an adjunct professor of direct marketing at Miami University. He's written for Target Marketing, Catalog Success and Retail Online Integration. Suffice it to say, if your argument against social media is it's something kids are doing, not real direct marketers, Gilbert can put those doubts to rest.

In recent years, there has been a global shift all marketers had to face head on. No longer can marketers push out advertising messages and expect a traditional order path. Impulse buying has given way to informed and researched buying via search engines, comparison shopping sites and more. The most important shift, however, has occurred through social media.

While the U.S. Postal Service has offered a reprieve to mailers by vowing not to increase rates in 2010, many mailers are still struggling with their expenses. Rates increased earlier this year, and these increases—combined with the struggling economy—are making it a very difficult year for direct mailers. They're scrambling for new and efficient ways to keep their direct mail costs down.

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