The Change Starts Now: DMA Advertising Week Panelists Take Marketers into a New Age
September 23, 2008 — Yesterday afternoon, at the PricewaterhouseCoopers Auditorium in New York City, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) hosted two panel presentations, collectively entitled “What Business Needs Now: What You Need to Know About Direct + Digital = Exponential Growth,” featuring discussions with thought leaders in direct marketing and digital media.
DMA President & CEO John A. Greco, Jr. welcomed attendees to the Advertising Week event, saying, “Direct plus digital equals exponential growth. Today’s marketing landscape is a complex collaboration. You have marketers, consumers, agencies, brands, new creative firms. They’re all going direct. They’re all going digital. Direct plus digital — the change is here, and it starts right now.”
‘Change! We’re in Step with the Times’
The first panel, moderated by Stan Rapp, chairman, Engauge, included Michael McCathren, director interactive, Chick-fil-A; Maggie Tucker, manager, performance marketing, InterContinental Hotels Group; and Kitt Collier Williams, chief marketing officer, Lealta, Savvy & Smart, the New Face of Loyalty.
“Change! We’re in step with the times,” exclaimed Rapp as he introduced the panel. “Political Candidates shout ‘change!’ And what change we’ve seen this week,” he added, citing the recent developments in the financial world.
Amid all of this change, Rapp pointed out, one thing remains certain: accountability. “Accountability is what direct and digital are about. Accountability is what the new marketing is about. And accountability is what the new financial structure of America will be about,” Rapp told attendees. “We have just entered the age of accountability.”
McCathren explained that direct plus digital is “about exponentially more customers talking about their own experiences online. It’s a great marketing strategy. It makes our job easier when they have a story to tell. It gives customers a brand experience they will want to talk about, because they’re talking about you already. Why not empower them, give them the tools?”
By definition, Tucker said, direct marketing speaks to consumers directly, drives call-to-action-led purchases, and is accountable and measurable. “Digital is direct,” she said. “We want to figure out what consumers are doing online. We’re not always creating the trends, but we want to be sure that we’re there.”
To that end, Tucker said InterContinental Hotels Group has established a presence in SecondLife, Facebook, Mapquest, and Google Maps. “The great thing about digital media is that it’s extremely accountable,” she continued. “The measurement of what we’re doing is essential,” she said. “We’re trying to reach the consumer with the right offer at the right time.”
In the realm of loyalty programs, Williams said the industry may not have caught up with the technology. “Digital reward programs have not realized their potential yet on the Net,” she said, pointing out that today, MySpace has almost 72 million unique visits per month, while Facebook has about 40 million. “We have not yet adapted very well to things like Twitter, in order to be one of the leaders of online marketing. . . . When you bring the new media to loyalty, you have to solve the attention deficit that exists with this new media. Today’s consumer wants an experience that is extremely authentic.”
Advice from the Leaders: Listen and Earn Trust
Panelists for the second half of the presentation included Greg Verdino, chief strategy officer, Crayon Consulting Group; Ron Hogan, creator and writer, Beatrice.com and writer for Mediabistro’s Galleycat blog; Jeanniey Mullen, executive chair, Email Experience Council (eec) and global executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Zinio; and Chas Salmore, chief executive officer, Marketingworks, Inc. The panel was moderated by Barbara Lippert, critic, Adweek Media.
When asked what companies are getting social media right, and which were on the wrong track, Hogan responded, “Any company that tries to control the conversation ends up getting it wrong.”
On the other hand, Hogan pointed out, “Those who are getting it right are those who are being authentic, and who are doing it in a not blatant way. In the publishing world I’ve been impressed with the Beacon press because they are a press that’s devoted with social justice issues, a way to rally the community around the issues rather than just buying the latest book.”
Asked to comment about best practices in the digital realm, Salmore said, “What’s important is for people to understand what you can and cannot do, what is being respectful. There are so many examples when brands tried to force their approach on consumers rather than get a sense of what the community is saying and adjust accordingly.”
Trust, Salmore continued, is paramount. “What you have to do is basically ask permission, and when it’s the proper moment. In any engagement channel we’re in, we make sure that we let people know who we represent, and don’t enter into a conversation until there’s been a strong amount of relationship.”
Verdino emphasized the importance of participating in online communities in a way that is transparent and authentic, and taking the time to get to know the communities that marketers are trying to influence.
“Every brand needs to be listening,” Verdino advised attendees. “If you don’t have, [for example] Google Alert set up for your brand, a Twitter search RSS feed, you need to do that now. You need to know what influencers, social media insiders, are saying about your brands and services. With the advent of mobile social networking, we see people taking their digital relationships and bringing them to life in the real world.”
Asked about the future of publishing, Mullen said that publishing is currently “at a convergence point where search has almost caught up with email.” “People only go online if it’s going to give them some personal benefit, and we always talk about personal relevancy and making the message count,” she said.
Regarding the impact of digital books on the publishing industry, Mullen said, “it’s a wake up call to the publishing industry. . . . With many magazines, you have to fit so much content on the page, because you have to. These devices changes all of this. The ads can become interactive.” Mullen added that Harris did a study last year that found that those who read digital magazine pay more attention to the ads, “because they can interact and shop right there.”
Digital Marketing ‘Will Continue to Push Boundaries’
In concluding DMA’s Advertising Week forum, DMA’s Greco said, “The new-age digital marketing mix will continue to push boundaries.”
Indicating the panels’ participants, Greco added, “And these are the people responsible for moving us all forward. Their creativity and innovation is contagious. And I know that because I look around and I see this room filled with men and women who have had their passion reignited. Have no doubt, these outstanding individuals will continue to inspire change — and that is exactly what business needs now.”
Directly following the panel briefing, DMA’s Advertising Week guests took part in DMA’s first-ever virtual book signing of the foreword and first three chapters of the new thought leader anthology, “What Business Needs Now.” Attendees also took away a pre-publication CD of the work with foreword by direct marketing legend and DMA Hall of Famer, Stan Rapp.
Additionally, guests gathered for a networking reception and a showcase of a selection of last year’s International ECHO special awards winners. The 2008 ECHO Awards will be presented in Las Vegas on Tuesday, October 14 at DMA08, the Global Event for Integrated Marketing, the world’s largest gathering of multichannel marketing professionals.
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