The Three Rs at DMA Days

Vegas hotelier Steve Wynn knows what his customers want. During his keynote at DMA '05 in Atlanta, he told thousands of attendees that visitors come to Vegas not for gambling, but for a deep, rich travel experience, and for choice and truth. "Despite how brilliant a marketing agency is, we have to speak the truth. No matter how inspirational our style might be, people expect you to keep the promise you made, and if you commit to that people will communicate with others and they will [patronize] you over and over again. We all live in a world of fast, sometimes unexpected, dramatic change," Wynn said. "Some [change is] pleasant, some not so pleasant....The most important thing is the ability to maintain agility in the face of change." Three key components of that change are relevancy, responsibility, and results, according to John Greco, DMA CEO and president. Marketing today is about giving customers what they want, not what companies think is right for them, and marketers are learning to adapt. One of the biggest challenges is preparing for change, instead of passively accepting it, Greco said. Relevancy is about delivering the right message to the right customer in the channel they prefer--for example, technology allows Wynn to track his guests' behavior to know what they like to eat, where they like to shop, and what kind of shows they like to see. "Relevancy is a real people-pleaser," Greco said. To get customers to trust you enough to share their information, marketers must protect consumer information, fight fraud, and show a genuine understanding of their concerns. That's where relevance ties into responsibility. The DMA has initiated a new policy for marketers to authenticate their email, which, according to Greco, is a crucial step toward preventing email fraud, protecting brand identity, and increasing deliverability. It is also important to work with government policymakers when it comes to things like postal reform, remote sales tax, data security, and privacy laws to protect customers. "Data security is a key challenge for everyone across all business and commerce--not just marketers. But it certainly affects our interests. The progress of direct marketing could be significantly derailed if legislation needlessly cuts marketers off from the data that feeds the direct marketing process," Greco said. "Too many people have come to think that access to the use of customer data by businesses, in and of itself, constitutes a risk. We believe that the responsible use of customer data can be proprivacy, proconsumer, and probusiness." Greco encouraged those in the industry to tell the story of direct marketing in a positive way that shows its benefits. "Companies and nonprofits invest a lot of resources in direct marketing--far too much to see their successes overshadowed by negative impressions of the few who market unethically." The third component is results in the form of ROI. The DMA's 2005 economic impact study, "Direct Marketing Today," shows direct marketing is driving 7 percent of the total sales in the U.S. economy and will account for more than 10 percent of total U.S. GDP in 2005. The association's forecast shows that sales driven by direct marketing will see a 6.4 CAGR through 2009. Companies and nonprofits can expect an average return of $11.50 in incremental revenue for each dollar invested, according to the DMA. "[That's] a return on marketing investment that even the toughest CFO would love. The bottom message is, if you want to be a winner, be a direct marketer," Greco said. "If we can tap into our strength as a united force and deliver on the promises of these three Rs, our potential will be unlimited. If we choose to succeed, we will." Related articles: Direct Marketing Trends for 2006 The Art and Science Equilibrium ROI increases as organizations' marketing initiatives fall in line with strategic corporate goals; four core marketing competencies help.
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