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Direct Response Marketing

Committee Corner: Why the DRMA Is More Important Than Ever

1 May, 2017 By: Chuck Wilkins Response

During our Membership Committee meetings, we frequently discuss the benefits of DRMA membership and what we can do to make membership more beneficial to the companies and individuals in our industry. There are the “hard” benefits, such as discounted registration to Response Expo, receiving this magazine and the DRMA Voice email newsletter, the quarterly membership list, and entry to networking events throughout the year. Then there are the soft benefits of belonging to the DRMA community — the networking, the fun, and the business opportunities that come with trust and familiarity.

Many of us like to think of this industry as a family — a competitive and sometimes dysfunctional family to be sure, but a family nonetheless. And, eventually, every family faces challenges and does one of two things: It either bands together and faces the challenge, or it acts as if nothing is wrong and eventually splits apart.

In many ways, our industry is — and has been — a family facing a number of challenges. The economics of television, which in the early days of the industry fed our growth like rocket fuel, have changed. The retail sector, where marketers could reliably and profitably move product, has become the most distressed sector of the economy, as each week seems to bring announcements of store closings and bankruptcies from long-established brands. Despite unmatched expertise selling directly to consumers across almost every channel, we have, as an industry, struggled to find consistent success selling online and via social media.

It might be easier to chug along as if the fundamentals of direct response were not changing, but if steadily declining performance metrics were palatable to you, you probably would not have found a home in our performance-obsessed industry. For our community, there is only one answer: we have to learn, adapt, and evolve along with the marketplace.

Here is the good news: the way we sell to consumers still works. In fact, it may be just about the most effective way to sell to consumers. Almost every category of product is sold directly to consumers and more and more of those products are sold on a continuity or subscription basis. Social media and crowd funding have made it possible for aspiring marketers to boot strap their way to a viable business — as DRTV did in the 1980s and 1990s. You can make a strong case that, if we play our cards right, the industry’s best days are ahead.

This is why we need the DRMA.

John Yarrington, Thomas Haire, and their team share the vision that our best days are still to come and are dedicated to creating the conversations that will lead our industry’s evolution by bringing diverse voices and experiences to the discussion. This mindset aims to help established marketers discover new strategies that drive continued success, as well as those that help newer marketers in novel channels leverage those veterans’ decades of hard-earned experience. Every benefit of DRMA membership derives from this single-minded focus on driving all the pieces of the industry forward.

To see this philosophy in action, you have to look no further than the most recent Response Expo. The Response team, along with its Advisory Board and committee members, assembled a program focused on dissecting the consumer journey from customer acquisition through post-transaction care and remarketing.

Each of the panels featured a mix of marketers — both traditional branders now using the performance-based marketing tenets made viable via DR and classic performance-based leaders — selling in new ways and via new channels who provided holistic, practical advice to attendees.

Rather than taking a channel-specific position, the DRMA recognizes the companies and entrepreneurs across the direct-to-consumer ecosystem as the kindred spirits they are. By focusing on assembling as broad a collection of experience as possible and facilitating the exchange of ideas amongst them, the DRMA creates a tide that lifts all boats.

But the DRMA doesn’t work without you.

Yarrington is fond of saying the DRMA “puts the unity in community.” Whether you are a marketer, an agency, call center, fulfillment house, payment processor, or other service provider, we all want one thing: to maximize the potential of this industry. We can realize that vision, but only together.

The lifeblood of any vibrant community is participation. The DRMA is no different. It cannot sustain and accomplish its mission without each of our support. Whether you participate by speaking, writing, serving on a committee, providing financial support through sponsorship, attending Response Expo, or by simply being a dues-paying DRMA member, every bit helps. And the more you give, the more each of us benefit. ■

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