Last week 30 of America’s top interactive and direct marketers spent eight full days (and nights) together in secluded spot on Long Island. They were participating in The Direct Marketing Educational Foundation’s annual Yeck Fellowship (aka “Genius” Camp for marketers.) Want a behind-the-scenes look at this by-invitation-only $5,400.00 per ticket event? Here’s our behind-the-scenes report written by attendee Alexis Bonnell, AIM’s DIVA of Marketing.
‘It was called “genius camp” for ID (Interactive and Direct) Marketing. A place where great companies like Rapp Collins, Kraft, Hallmark, DraftWorldwide, Fingerhut, Chase Manhattan Bank, A.I.M, and Experian all sent their best and brightest to understand today and carve a path for tomorrow.
Led by John Deighton of Harvard’s Business School, each “Yeck Scholar candidate” reviewed 8 cases ranging from Dell, to Hilton, to Webvan and estimated based on their knowledge, experience, and insight what the company should do and where it would be in a few years if they continued on the same track. They also participated with “experts” in the industry like Howard Draft, Michael Little, John Nardone, Jerry Shereshewsky, J.G. Sandom, David Shepard, and Emily Soell, just to mention a few, in sharing and formulating a solid industry vision for the future.
Created by the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation by means of John Yeck’s million dollar endowment, the Yeck Fellowship has proven itself to be a far cry from anything this industry has yet seen.
I sat, crammed in a room with 40 other people for 7 days straight, we listened reasoned and argued about what the next few years would bring from our the direct and interactive industries, although we all walked away with some personal epiphanies, here is what hit me the hardest:
PRIVACY: People must realize that privacy is defined and will continue to be defined by the relationship. Relationships are not things to be legislated, they cannot be controlled.
Privacy is not a right but rather an asset. People choose what that asset is worth to them. If you think about web-cam home porn sites, those people have decided to trade privacy for profit. Public figures trade the asset of privacy for fame or fortune. The public is very willing to trade assets. What this industry has not done is given them many reason’s to. The future will see smart companies openly acknowledging this trade and giving the customer more control in it.
HUMANIZING: Direct marketing will continue to work off of the numbers but due to the larger amounts of behavior data and a desire to push DM campaigns past the norm, DM will move into the realm of traditional advertising working off of emotional factors beyond fear and greed
INTEGRATION: The smart companies will start to see that separating their e-business and other business does nothing more than dilute both. This will entail a continued culture clash as “e” is absorbed into big-business but the benefit will be campaigns which fully maximize the corporate strategy, into all channels. For once all of the marketing divisions will be on one team.
IT: There will be a trend to unify the corporate agenda. Many think this will happen with outsourcing, it will. However many great companies will start to realize that they can recognize the benefits of innovation through continued learning and education. The first trend will be to “educate” IT people at marketing camps and such to get them on the same page. This “dumbing down” will facilitate a clear definition of goals, and ensure that everyone is “speaking the same language”. Time is wasted in translation and hostility, both marketing and IT think that the other group doesn’t care or has their heads stuck up their #$%#’s. In fact, the truth is, most IT people would be great Direct and interactive marketers because they understand the quantitative aspects of the business.
CUSTOMERS: The customer’s of today are rich with knowledge, this makes their expectations higher. The customer will be in the position to dictate expectations rather than adopting those created by the company. This means that keeping a finger on the consumer pulse will gain even more value.
NO one owns the customers; companies who continue to define themselves by “owning” a customer segment will find themselves in deep trouble. The customer has more power, as Jerry S put it, Assuming you own the customer is like walking into a bar and asking someone to marry you, it ain’t going to happen, their has to be a courtship, and maybe after a long while marriage, and even then, look at rising divorce rates to prove that it is about CRM!
CRM: OK I can’t think of many merchants who actually have a “relationship” with their customer, so stop fooling yourselves and stop calling a first date a “relationship” rather call it an “experience” and work on each individual “experience” until hey you might wake up married, like a bad trip to Vegas.
DIRECT MARKETING: ID has to get personal and emotional, why do we still have low close rates? Because we try to close! Companies who stop trying to close the deal and rather concentrate on opening the door, build on the ability for that person to understand your corporate benefit. It amazes me how willing DM’ers are to pay considerable CPM’s only to give that person one chance to respond to usually poorly written offers. If you can get that consumer to give just a little feedback just think of how much better you can target an ad next time and how much more likely they are to buy and be happy! DM will move toward an education toward acquisition model rather than a direct immediate sale, especially in the new technology areas. You will start to see industry wide collaboration much like the “got milk” campaigns to push an idea first and a brand second.
RETAIL: Retail will be king again, if they can ever get their acts together. Yes people like convenience, but they also like to leave the house and desk, why do you think “foosball tables” are so popular? It is because everyone needs to escape even we who are tied to a monitor for eight hours a day.
QUALITY OF LIFE: With the market in a down turn and companies going belly up, the mind of the employee is readjusting. What did I do with the last two years of my life, I hear too much. Employees will again turn toward stability and a job that can offer them rewards that are personalized, it isn’t about stock it is about QOL. Yes salaries will continue to be high, come on there is a low unemployment rate what did you expect? However, smart employees are turned on and turned away by many other things, what are they? Go ASK THEM!
GLOBALIZATION: Technology will skip the learning curve in many countries and what took the Americans 5 years to understand and adopt will only take other countries half the time. As access moves toward satellite and away from hardlines, this technology will scream past into
CHANNELS: Channels are the main cause and hindrance of ID growth. New Technology is emerging that will integrate all channels seamlessly or with the customer effort. Technolgoy like CAT, will allow the full optimization of a catalog purchase with the invisioned ease of online purchasing, helping to continue to lower the backend costs of high capital ventures.
NEWSPAPERS: Newspapers are dying! I don’t care what anyone says, yes there will be a few people who like the “feel of the paper” but with customized and personalized news becoming more of a reality, and with life at “warp speed” people want info relitive to them. To anyone who argues, one word, “Internet”.
TECHNOLOGY: In the area of WAP, technology is being created for technology sake, not with the customer in mind. If it were, no one would be reading a 3-page email on a 2-inch screen. When WAP starts being dictated by customer need and advancement, AKA marketing, it will be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. PDA’s on the other hand are growing around consumer dictated needs and are receiving higher marks and adaptation rates.
ITV: It is here, don’t be fooled or comforted by the fact that it is still a few years away. It will be the smartest invention of all times, because it has started its campaign with consumer education. With a consumer base who is the most ready willing and able to learn in all of history, this medium has the best chance, if we could only get all the players around the table.
Direct Marketing will factor more in branding campaigns than ever before.
BOTTOM LINE: The industry is shifting from high money, offline campaigns to targeted, selective integrated campaigns. Anyone who can't make this transition will be doomed by overspending and under-performing.
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