Larry Kimmel, who in the summer took charge as CEO of the Direct Marketing Association, buys into the notion that sales and marketing executives have to break down the silos if they expect to succeed in a Web 2.0 world. “When consumers are empowered to advocate for brands, it’s far more important that the sales people who have intimate information about customers’ wants and needs be more influential in marketing and marketing be much more responsive to the voice of the customer,” said Kimmel, who until 2008 was chairman-CEO of ad agency G2 Direct & Digital, and its earlier incarnation, Grey Direct. Follow the Lead spoke to Kimmel as he geared up for the DMA: 2010 Conference & Expo, in San Francisco, which kicks off this weekend.
Follow the Lead: What is your take on the benefits of social media marketing?
Kimmel: If you’re an SMB, it’s great because it’s minimum expense to get in the game. In many business scenarios, you can build communities and those communities can be wonderfully supportive of each other, so that holds great promise. One of the things we have to figure out is how best to leverage the channel; lots of people assume that because the channel exists it becomes a promotion channel…I think success in social media is more about product then it is about promotion if you got to the classic 4 Ps of marketing (promotion, price, packaging and place).
FTL: How do you think your background on the agency side will enhance the DMA’s relationship with its members?
Kimmel: On the agency side you serve clients and that’s what an association does. We only exist because members think they need our support. I’ve made it my business to talk to two, three member companies every single day. I’m going to elevate that after our annual event to make sure that far more people here are much more outwardly focused in understanding what members’ needs are. I think we have been a victim of our own success. For 93 years, we’ve been an amazing supporter of the direct-mail community, so a lot of people think, ‘Well, that’s what you do.’ But our annual event this year has 160 sessions and 60 of them touch on social media, search, mobile, data across the enterprise, mail and interactive media.
FTL: What do you think your constituents are looking for from the DMA as they navigate what in many respects is still unchartered water in marketing
Kimmel: Answers; what works. What’s been tried and what doesn’t and how we can grow as quickly and efficiently as possible and build raging fans. We are planning an event online called Global Mobile for early November.
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