It’s that time of year again. The kids are back in school; we’ve broken out our fall sweaters, and although the leaves are still green here on Long Island, a few signs of the holiday season are starting to pop up here and there. That means it’s also time to make predictions for the coming year. Some of Long Island’s top marketing executives gathered last week at the Holiday Inn in Plainview to discuss what’s in store for the marketing industry in 2012. This was my first time attending an event hosted by the DMALI, and I must say that it was very informative and the crowd was warm and welcoming.
The luncheon featured a Q&A with a panel of experts that included Scott Cooper Associates’ own Director of Business Development, Greg Wells; as well as Christopher Ulrich, CEO and Founder of Direct Response Group, LLC; Craig E. Yaris, Chief Technologist at EsquireTech Solutions; and Dan Giacopelli, CEO of Skoop! Inc. Attendees spent the first hour mingling, networking and eating lunch, and then DMALI president Scott Fenwick introduced the panelists and started the Q&A session. Here’s a summary of what went down.
Biggest challenges for direct marketing
Given the possible plan for the Post Office to scale back to a five-day delivery in 2012, the panel was asked how this might affect the marketing industry. The overall feeling was that there is no huge downside to a five-day delivery. We’re getting less snail mail these days than we did a few years ago, and some panelists felt that receiving less mail makes us pay closer attention to the pieces we do get, which is of course a good thing when it comes to traditional DM.
When asked about privacy issues and government intervention in the coming year, panelists agreed that marketers will be challenged to approach direct marketing in the right fashion. People want to receive messages; if marketers are stringent about sending them ones that interest them they’ll avoid potential legislation. Yet marketers have to be careful to not let a conservative privacy approach limit their boundaries in 2012. We should embrace privacy laws and really get to know customer likes and dislikes. The power is increasingly falling on the consumer’s shoulders to choose which method they want to be marketed to. Marketers must find the right method for reaching them.
Integrated marketing changes and opportunities
There were no predictions for anything earth shattering to happen in the marketplace technologically or otherwise that would have a major impact on integrated marketing in 2012. Everyone agreed that mobile is coming on strong even in acquisition, although it’s still primarily more of a retention tool. Companies will increasingly look to hire single-sourced providers… agencies that understand the integration of channels and can bring together vendors that play well in the sandbox.
Opt-in, Opt-out, and acquisition campaigns
We live in a predicted world of opt-in that includes Do Not Call and Do Not Market lists, opt-in policies for email, and opt-out of tracking for the web. The panelists were asked what influence this will have on acquisition campaigns in 2012. Their view is that consumers have the right NOT to be marketed to. But we shouldn’t look at this as a bad thing. On the contrary, it helps us to ensure that we’re marketing to the right people.
It’s the marketers’ responsibility in the coming year to find the point where database (one-to-one) marketing meets social media. Stop shouting your message at them, instead create a conversation with your audience about their needs, and most importantly, LISTEN to the answer. Finally, tailor a personally relevant message to them in the format they like and a frequency they decide.
Small, medium, or large?
When asked who will integrate varying marketing strategies better in 2012—the small, medium or large business—almost all of our panelists felt that mid-sized marketers are adopting integrated strategy at a faster rate. Big businesses get it and small businesses want it, but medium-sized businesses are at an advantage because they don’t have the multiple layers the large companies have to cut through to get things approved, yet they have the budgets necessary to implement integrated campaigns. Medium-sized businesses, while budget conscious, are really going to be looking at how all the moving parts play a role in the marketing mix… how their digital efforts can work more intuitively with their traditional methods for a more efficient and cost-effective solution to growing revenues. And expect businesses to rely on a single-sourced vendor to make the integration happen in a seamless fashion.
Where to look for marketing advice
As the traditional advertising agencies become more holding company than agency, the DMALI experts were asked where marketing advice will come from. Again they agreed that we’ll look to the medium-sized agencies, and for similar reasons. They’re producing excellent work on much smaller budgets. And they’re nimble enough to execute multi-faceted campaigns quickly and efficiently. Big agencies often have numerous tiers and decision makers, which may encumber them from reacting promptly enough in today’s business environment.