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Direct Marketing has a Big Future

Direct Marketing has a Big Future | Marketing Horizons with Ron Jacobs

Direct marketing —an approach that uses all types of advertising media to motivate a response, which is tracked and stored in a database—is fast becoming indistinguishable from modern marketing today.  Join us as Ron Jacobs, one of the preeminent authorities on this topic, explains the evolution of direct marketing thinking and where it’s headed over the horizon.  Hint: Some marketing challenges are not likely to be solved anytime soon, but Ron says new tools and technologies are on the way.



Cyndi Greenglass: Can you define the characteristics of what we call direct marketing and take us on a little journey of how we got to where we are today?

Ron Jacobs: My textbook definition of direct marketing is the interactive use of advertising media to enable an immediate behavior modification in such a way that this behavior can be tracked, recorded, analyzed and stored on a database for future retrieval and use. And if I break that down, what we're saying is we're using a lot of different marketing channels to capture behaviors of what consumers do and users do. Then, we’re storing that data in a database so that we can pull that information up and use it for future marketing efforts. You can also see that that pretty much is the definition of what marketing is today, so it is easy to see how this has become a modern way of thinking about marketing, which goes back to an awful long time ago. Today direct mail is still a pretty dominant use for direct marketing. Email is another and if we look at direct mail and email, they're so similar.

Ruth Stevens: How does direct marketing present itself in today’s world?

Ron Jacobs: When we look at modern copy and creative work, we look for some of the same things in email and in digital marketing that we have in direct mail. For example, there's the use of calls to action, there's the use of offers, there's the use of storytelling. Direct marketers have always been great storytellers and we've always had this discussion about brand marketing. We're really seeing these forms complementing each other.

Ruth Stevens: Yes, and digital marketers measure the results of their marketing based on response counting responses. The same way, direct marketers have for you decades.

Ron Jacobs: Yes, absolutely and that's exactly right. Measurement is such a big deal today we talked about KPIs and all the different things we have, like dashboards. I want to be very clear that when I look at direct marketing, digital marketing and global marketing, in general, I see how they all complement each other and how we learn from each other.

Ruth Stevens: The principles and practices of direct marketing has been put on steroids, thanks to the power of the Internet, but where do you think things are going Ron? Has direct marketing changed and where or what should we be anticipating over the horizon?

Ron Jacobs: What I see now is that direct marketing is simply become marketing. No one's interested in direct marketing, they're interested in marketing. And as a result, that's the kind of thing we're really focused on: growing marketing so that it's much more mainstream. Let me give you one example of something we're seeing. When we write, we must think about audiences. We now have three audiences that we write for and when we're writing a direct mail, email or whatever the medium is, these three audiences are very important to us. We have these consumers, users or end users that we put over in one bucket, we have influencers that we're writing for and in a third bucket, we have algorithms that we're writing for. Even direct mail copy is getting searched and recorded somewhere. So, when we write today, we're having to think how do we write for this market, how do we write for that market and there's no marketer not considering how are they going to communicate that same story to influencers and to algorithms.

Cyndi Greenglass: Do you have any last parting thoughts you'd like to share with us?

Ron Jacobs: I’ve really seen the future of marketing and direct marketing being totally intertwined. We're doing new kinds of modeling which we didn't get into. You know, my book is 700 pages. We're never going to have time to get into every single thing that we talked about, but I see ensemble models, meaning models that are now built out of two and three and four different kinds of models being the future of what we do so that we cannot only model value but model response. Geography and all of these things are becoming so important, I think the future for marketing been amazing and I’m so glad to be a part of it.

Key Takeaways/Three Little Piggies

  • All marketing is direct marketing today. That could be argued a bit, but the modern marketer needs to embrace the concept.
  • Attribution is important for us to be held accountable. Don’t be afraid to be measured and held accountable. Attribution is an important conversion we have to continue to have in order to have the foundation and ability to market in an omni-channel world.
  • Copywriters and communicators need to be thinking about three audiences: the end user/the consumer target, influences and algorithms.

Marketing Communications Today presents Horizons, it’s forward-thinking, looking ahead, through the front windshield and beyond, into the marketing future. Join Cyndi and Ruth bi-weekly for new ideas, technologies, tools and strategies that are emerging to help marketers navigate over the marketing horizon.

Meet our guest

Ron Jacobs

During the last 35 years, J&C founder, Ron Jacobs, has been blazing the trail and establishing the best ways to interact with consumers. Through honed tactics and techniques, Ron has defined the best ways to start, manifest and sustain relationships with customers. He shares his insights and strategies as the author of many articles and books, through works with clients and organizations in the U.S. and around the world, and across the globe as world-renowned public speaker. Ron Jacobs literally wrote the book on direct marketing, which is now the basis for modern relationship and response marketing.


Meet the hosts

Cyndi Greenglass

Cyndi W. Greenglass is a founding partner and president at Livingston Strategies, a data-informed, strategic consulting firm that helps clients develop, execute, and measure their customer communications with a close focus on results. Cyndi has razor-sharp strategic skills matched by impeccable on-the-ground savvy and tactical abilities. She is an Adjunct Instructor in the Data Marketing Communications online master's degree program from WVU.

Greenglass has twice been named into the Top 100 Influential BTB Marketers by Crain’s BtoB Magazine and was the 2012 CADM Chicago Direct Marketer of the Year. She is a member of the Board of Advisors for BRAND United and has taught, trained and presented at over 50 conferences throughout the world.

Ruth Stevens

Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, for business-to-business clients. Ruth serves on the boards of directors of the HIMMS Media Group, and the Business Information Industry Association. She is a trustee of Princeton-In-Asia, past chair of the Business-to-Business Council of the DMA, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York.

Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain’s BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She serves as a mentor to fledgling companies at the ERA business accelerator in New York City.


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