By Sara Cullin, APR
In October, I had the opportunity to attend my first DMA conference. I spent three days in Los Angeles talking with and learning from top brands in the direct marketing space. Here’s what I learned.
1. Data is everything (or, everything is data)
In fact, DMA (formerly the Direct Marketing Association) announced at the conference it is now the Data and Marketing Association. Almost every session I attended was centered around data collection and how to put it to work. And for good reason.
We have more data at our fingertips than ever before. It’s an exciting time to be a communicator. We have the ability to customize messages to meet the needs of each of our audiences. In fact, millennials expect it.
Data can also be used to guide our creativity as we look for ways to uniquely touch our audience. Digital agency Wunderman shared some great examples of campaigns driven by data. One airline has 125,000 versions of a single email that is targeted based on travel patterns, weather and other factors. Another airline used a digital billboard to call out flight numbers and destinations as they physically flew overhead.
2. Young generations need effective leadership.
Author and popular TED Talk speaker Simon Sinek shared how company leaders must be aware of the abilities, needs and shortcomings of our youngest working generations. As he explained, millennials are afflicted with addiction to social media and instant gratification. This is coupled with, maybe even contributing to, a lack of self-esteem. To lead them effectively, we must understand this. He hits on some of the main points of this discussion in this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMEqLzWrMIo
To paraphrase, Sinek said, You don’t give an adolescent keys to the liquor cabinet. We should—as parents and leaders—seize the keys and protect the young, not contribute to their problems.
3. We must adopt agile workflows.
In my department, we already consider ourselves fairly agile in terms of our ability to “pivot” and adjust our designs, copy and projects. Flexibility is increasingly important as new data is gained, so strategies can be fine-tuned for maximum results. One business-to-business service provider shared the key to its success in a testimonial campaign was agile content creation. As the campaign progressed, it constantly improved results by generating more of what its audience wanted.
Sara Cullin, APR, is a social media specialist and copywriter for the Hubert Co.