Give Thanks For Being a Cataloger
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. My family and I certainly did.
And as this is the time of year when we reflect on what we’re truly thankful for, let me share this with you. I’m thankful for my career in direct and catalog marketing.
Think about it: In what other industry are almost all of the actions we take directly measurable, where our worth as businesspeople can be so easily quantified? I take comfort in that. Don’t you?
As direct marketers, we don’t have to create billboards, institutional ads, or even beer commercials, and pray that they eventually drive in revenue through brand recognition. Direct marketing is immediate, in your face and urgent. For this I am thankful. I love counting up the orders and leads that come in as a campaign is running. Every response I get is a little gift, and a validation that I did my job correctly.
And if the response doesn’t come in, we can learn from that too.
I had a professor at NYU who used to say that to be a great direct marketer, you only have to be right 51 percent of the time. While this is an exaggeration, the basic concept is correct. In what other industry is so much emphasis placed on improving work that we just completed? Better yet: In what other line of work, do our failures get applauded as an opportunity to do better?
Don’t get me wrong. There’s a time and place for branding and the like. It’s just that direct marketers are adept at building brands, and getting the order at the same time. Direct marketing and brand building aren’t diametrically opposed as they once were.
The great news is that direct marketing no longer is the red-headed stepchild of the marketing industry. When the dot-com boom went bust, those left standing were the direct marketers. Catalogers created killer e-commerce sites that built brands and made sales. Smart retailers became adept at multichannel marketing by following the basic tenets of direct marketing. And the few pure play Internet companies that survived did so by learning how direct marketing works.
It was never about slapping a URL on image ads; if we build it they will come! We direct marketers knew that already. Today may companies employ direct thinking.
In fact, in order to survive in business today you need to have a rich understanding of the principles of direct marketing.
I started my career selling advertising, and I learned very quickly that direct response advertising is far superior to image advertising. As an ad sales rep, any time I walked into new clients’ offices that included some form of call to action in their ads, I had a great shot at keeping these clients if the ad “pulled.” When I walked into a client’s office that ran an institutional ad, I’d always hear the same story: “Sorry, I got no results — I told you that advertising doesn’t work for me.” Thank goodness I was a quick learner!
So walk tall, my friends.
Be thankful that we are direct marketers, catalogers, multichannel marketers, etc. With just a few shopping weeks left until the holidays, may we all see results well beyond our forecasts. (Let’s see brand marketers try to forecast their sales like that!)
Thanks for reading! Speak to you next Tuesday.
Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing and a professor of direct marketing at Miami International University of Art and Design. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Gilbert has had a storied career in direct and digital marketing resulting in a burning desire to tell stories that educate, inform, and inspire marketers to new heights of success.
After years of marketing consulting, Jim decided it was time to “put his money where his mouth was" and build his own e-commerce company, Premo Natural Products, with its flagship product, Premo Guard Bed Bug & Mite Sprays. Premo in its second year is poised to eclipse 100 percent growth.
Jim has been writing for Target Marketing Group since 2006, first on the pages of Catalog Success Magazine, then as the first blogger for its online division. Jim continues to write for Total Retail.
Along the way, Jim has led the Florida Direct Marketing Association as their Marketing Chair and then three-term President, been an Adjunct Professor of Direct and Digital marketing for Miami International University, and created a lecture series, “The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing,” which he has presented across the country at conferences and universities.