Politically Direct: The Five Biggest Changes in Washington
April 1, 2009 — Change echoed as the buzzword over the past election cycle. Now, with the election behind us, change has officially arrived in Washington
With each election, we face changes that affect our legislative priorities, and ultimately, the business practices of the entire direct marketing community. Despite the current economic conditions, understanding these changes will allow marketers to move forward, and not only survive, but thrive.
As changes occur, there are five major areas that are likely to have the greatest effect on the direct marketing community:
1. The Congressional Middle
With the Democrats’ increased margins in both chambers of Congress, it becomes all the more important to examine the makeup of this expanded majority. With this closer look, it can be seen that the moderates in both chambers, especially in the Senate, will be the key policymakers and swing votes.
On issues of importance to marketers, it is the legislators near the middle ideologically, whether Democrat or Republican, who will be the most receptive to information and education they receive from the marketing community. “This congressional middle will be more important as we go forward, particularly on direct marketing issues,” said Linda Woolley, DMA’s executive vice president of Government Affairs. “It’s that middle base that we really want to work with and target our messages to.”
These members will also be the dealmakers. This is particularly true in the Senate, where swinging a handful of moderate republicans could give Democrats the votes necessary to pass a bill, and where opposition of some Democrats could doom a bill to failure.
2. Obama: The First High-Tech President
For the first time, the country has a truly high-tech president. President Barack Obama is so connected, he fought for and won the ability to keep his BlackBerry. Obama ran a campaign focused on using technology to the fullest, with particular emphasis on new technologies that will forever change how campaigns are conducted.
This president not only expanded his messaging while campaigning through the use of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, text messaging, and YouTube, he continues to use the machination in place to promote his agenda. The Executive Branch moved further into the technological realm recently when a White House meeting on health care reform was broadcast via the Internet on the White House’s official website.
“The technology infrastructure Obama used to win the presidency is emblematic of what we’re going to see going forward, certainly in politics and advocacy, and also in direct marketing,” said Woolley.
3. The Importance of Channel Integration
As technology advances, the lines between marketing channels continue to blur. As this happens, it becomes increasingly important to integrate these channels to formulate the most effective strategies. The result of the successful multichannel Obama-Biden campaign underscores this fact, and its importance for all messaging, from campaign to advocacy to marketing.
“Obama won this race using all marketing channels,” Woolley said. “We’re seeing it in Washington, and so it will spread to the direct marketing community as well. Pay attention to multichannel messaging, and use it wherever and whenever you can.”
4. The Economy’s Impact on Legislative Priorities
It is no news that that our country’s economy is facing one of its most challenging times. Naturally, every action taken by President Obama and Congress will be viewed with this in mind.
With every piece of proposed legislation, the questions “What does it do to help the economy?” and “How much will it cost?” will be in the forefront. Direct marketing must be viewed as a significant avenue for commerce, a potent force that will help us emerge successfully from the current recession.
In the current environment, it is increasingly important that marketers demonstrate that they have strong self-regulation programs in place, and that they are in compliance with these programs. The importance of such measures is only magnified in a time when one party controls multiple branches of government.
Maintaining and adhering to a strong self-regulatory program is the best way to increase consumer trust, eliminate the necessity for overly burdensome regulation, and grow responsibly — and the best way to ensure that all marketing channels remain open and economically viable.
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