The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) kicked off its annual event for marketers last weekend in San Diego. I was excited to be there as a participant and as a speaker - Afterall, the DMA is the leading global trade association of organizations using multichannel direct marketing tools and techniques.
This annual conference, one of the world’s largest gatherings of integrated, multi-channel marketing professionals, is the place where the entire international marketing community connects with people, companies, ideas, education, trends, and technology that will shape marketing’s future. Rumor has it that there were 12,000 attendees and over 500 exhibitors.
Understanding how direct marketing works and utilizing it effectively is vitally important today in every industry. The direct marketing process is the future of all marketing and an essential driver of sales and growth in today’s global economy. Accountability and measurement is increasingly important as companies shift mass advertising to more measurable and targeted direct marketing. And DMA President, John Greco, summed it up perfectly – “It’s all about data and analytics”.
The keynote speakers headlining this year’s conference included the well-known Martha Stewart. If I had to describe her speech in one word, it would be “confidence”. She seemed to always have a clear vision and total belief in her ability to be a success. Other featured speakers included marketing icon, Stan Rapp, and social media visionaries Scott Monty of Fort Motor Company and Ken Dychtwald of Agewave.
The multichannel direct marketing landscape is changing very rapidly every day, challenging the ability of marketers to understand what’s happening and stay a few steps ahead. The conference provided unparalleled access to leading experts who offered advice and expertise to marketers for improving marketing efficiency, ROI, and building more successful campaigns.
The session I participated in as a speaker discussed trends in using customer behavioral and demographic data to help companies provide relevant offers to their target audience both online and offline, and threats from both privacy advocates and legislators who want to limit (or eliminate) our use of customer data. My panel included a lawyer who specializes in helping companies understand data privacy laws, a privacy advocate who argues for these limitations, and a marketing consultant who moderated. There was a lively banter with a very interested audience who challenged the privacy advocate and probed into current and threatening regulatory issues as we explored how we can best use data and analytics to provide customers with timely and targeted offers. The conversation advanced understanding of the issues and gave us ideas for moving forward in a complicated marketing landscape.
This year’s DMA conference presented an impressive array of informative sessions and events for marketers and we all came home with a little more knowledge and a renewed enthusiasm for new and challenging opportunities.