Direct marketing forges forward

Keeping pace with the ever-changing digital landscape is the biggest challenge facing direct marketers and it means that the industry needs to make sure its skills are up to date.

I had the pleasure of attending the Direct Marketing Association’s annual lunch this week in the plush surroundings of the London Royal Automobile Club (RAC).

The DMA executive director Chris Combemale said to me that the glut of social media and digital platforms mean it’s not just business and organisations but individuals and politicians that are direct marketers and responsible for managing their own brand reputation.

Fairly relevant then that Michael Portillo was the after dinner speaker. He gave a thoroughly enjoyable speech that was enlightening on a number of levels and demonstrated that individuals are now responsible for how they are portrayed in the media. Something that Portillo might have welcomed rather earlier on in his career.

A door drop or DM pack may be one of the longest standing methods of direct communication but technology and social media have levelled the playing field. These have had the most marked impact on direct marketing and also poses the biggest challenge for the direct marketing industry to overcome.

Combemale says brands need to make sure that they have direct marketers “with the right skillset for the modern DM world” which means the industry must retrain marketers.

He says that at least every six months there is a transformation with new media channels emerging that direct marketers must learn and assimilate these into their best practice.

The dual challenge he says is for direct marketers to keep up with the pace of change and while understanding how corporate behaviour can leverage the new developments.

With so much changing so quickly in direct marketing, it is hugely difficult for brands to negotiate the minefield and know how to juggle its channels of direct communications. However it’s good to see an industry body such as the DMA being forward thinking in its approach to emerging channels and welcoming new medias into the fold as complementary strands to more direct marketing traditional disciplines.

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