All eyes focussed on bottom line

Making money in the '90s is the single-minded focus of the Canadian Direct Marketing Association's annual convention and trade show, to be held April 19-21, at the Palais des Congres in Montreal.Trish Wheaton, senior vice-president and director of client services at...

Making money in the ’90s is the single-minded focus of the Canadian Direct Marketing Association’s annual convention and trade show, to be held April 19-21, at the Palais des Congres in Montreal.

Trish Wheaton, senior vice-president and director of client services at Toronto-based direct marketing agency Wunderman Worldwide, and co-chairwoman with executive recruiter Marnie Keith-Murray of this year’s program planning committee, says the committee chose the down-to-earth theme for a couple of reasons.

‘We had a lot of discussions that centred around direct marketing applications in a ’90s business environment,’ Wheaton says.

‘We talked a lot about integrated marketing techniques,’ she says. ‘And we settled on the theme of making money in the ’90s because we felt it was the end result of smart direct marketing.’

‘We also felt it had universal appeal, not just to direct marketers, but to other convention attendees, people from other disciplines who want to employ direct marketing techniques in their marketing mix.’

John Gustavson, president and chief executive officer of the cdma, echoes Wheaton’s sentiments.

‘You can have all the speculative theoretical conversations you want about the information highway or interactive marketing, but what we are fundamentally about is making money,’ Gustavson says.

‘We thought maybe if we concentrated on that theme, we could produce some specific, valuable information that people could take away and use,’ he says.

Conference sessions

In keeping with that goal, the cdma has pulled together a dozen conference sessions that promise to show marketers how to increase their profits, reduce their costs and produce award-winning and profitable direct marketing creative.

On April 20, for example, Greg Olsen, manager of direct marketing at Toronto-based Apple Canada, and chairman of the cdma’s business-to-business council, will moderate a panel discussion in which participants will explain how marketers can squeeze profits out of their existing databases.

Panelists confirmed at press-time include Valya Kruk-Raasch, manager of Aeroplan marketing at Air Canada; Bill Stanwick, director of card member relations at American Express and Barbara Canning Brown, Strategy columnist and president of BCB & Associates.

In the same time slot, Alan Rosenspan, senior vice-president of American direct marketing agency Brenner Stonberg Humphrey, and Ken Wax, president of Total Quality Selling, will show attendees how to create cost-effective direct marketing campaigns.

Also, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on April 20, Richard McLaughlin, director of the Canadian Tire Auto Club, and Bob Schmidt, manager of international customer operations at American catalogue marketer L.L. Bean, will explain how direct marketers can increase profits by listening to their customers.

Later that afternoon, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Andre Turgeon, director of product direct services at Toronto-based IBM Canada, and Yona Shtern, manager of direct marketing at Montreal-based Avon Canada, will explain how their companies are using direct marketing to support their salesforces and increase profits.

At the same time, Martin Smee, a two-time winner of the cdma’s Direct Marketer of the Year award, will guide a panel discussion in which executives behind some of the most profitable direct marketing campaigns of 1993 – last year’s rsvp award winners – will provide inside information on what made the campaigns successful.

Loyalty

On April 21, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., Mark Levine, senior vice-president of u.s. direct marketing agency Wunderman Cato Johnson, will delve into the concept of loyalty and explain why it is key to long-term profitability.

In the same time-slot, Sherry Martin, senior manager of direct marketing at the Royal Bank, will oversee a discussion of predictive modelling in a session entitled Modelling School for the Confused and Afraid.

Later that morning, from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Andre Chagnon, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Montreal-based interactive tv service Le Groupe Videotron, will take direct marketers on a guided tour of the electronic highway.

And, finally, Jay Conger, professor of management at McGill University in Montreal, will show attendees how they can develop their leadership skills, and, consequently, effect dramatic performance improvements from their staff.

On both days, in three one-hour sessions, Max Rougeon, vice-president of Montreal-based direct marketing agency Allard Direct, will show delegates everything they need to know to create effective direct marketing campaigns – from defining their target group and creating the best offer to monitoring results.

Aimed at novices

Gustavson says that although most people attending the conference are already familiar with the fundamentals of direct marketing, these information-packed sessions, entitled DM Basics to the Max, are intended specifically for novice direct marketers.

New this year is a half-day executive session in which Elliott Jaques, visiting research professor in management science at George Washington University, in Washington, d.c., will explain to a group of 30 senior managers, his theory of requisite organization.

According to Gustavson, requisite organization contradicts popular management theory, which says that ‘flat’ management structures are the most effective, in favor of a modified hierarchy.

Wheaton says the session is being offered as an added value to senior executives, many of whom are already familiar with the nuts and bolts of direct marketing theory.

‘A lot of what was presented was a confirmation of what [senior executives] already knew,’ she says.

‘The session with Elliott Jaques would be something exclusively for them, a management session they might not have time to source on their own.’

Wheaton says that if the concept of an executive session is well-received, the association will continue to offer them.

Keynote speakers

Gustavson says keynote speakers at this year’s convention include a cross-section of leading business thinkers, including Hollis Harris, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Air Canada; Pierre Peladeau, president and chief executive officer of Montreal-based printing and publishing conglomerate Quebecor; James Taylor, managing partner and chief executive officer of American market research and public opinion survey firm Yankelovich Partners; Don Schultz, professor of integrated marketing communications and Northwestern University in Illinois, and Canadian economist and futurist Nuala Beck.

Wheaton says the keynote speakers are intended to broaden the direct marketing focus and stimulate thinking about the overall business environment.

‘We not only look at the specific application of our discipline, but also at the whole marketing environment,’ she says.

Trade show

No convention of the direct marketing industry would be complete without a trade show, and this year’s event is no exception.

Stan Pride, president of St. Catharines, Ont. marketing consultancy The Pride Marketing Group, and chairman of this year’s trade show, describes the exhibitors attending as ‘the backbone of the direct marketing industry,’ and says almost all of the major players will be present at the sold-out show.

‘It is probably the best opportunity for delegates to meet the top suppliers in the direct marketing industry in one place at one time,’ Pride says.

‘And, at the same time, it is the perfect opportunity for manufacturers to present their solutions on a one-to-one basis to the leaders in the direct marketing industry,’ he says.

Pride says that while most of the 70-odd exhibitors are longstanding participants, there are several new faces, among them in-store media supplier infoNet Media and The Barbados Investment and Development Corporation.

Although he could not confirm which exhibitors would be presenting new products and services, Pride did say Toronto-based direct marketing supplier Herbert A. Watts was rumored to be announcing something exciting.

Gustavson says the decision to locate this year’s event in Montreal – the country’s second-largest direct marketing centre – follows on the cdma’s strategy to reach a broader and more diverse audience.

Previous annual conventions were held in Ottawa in 1992 and Toronto in 1993. Next year’s event will be held in Vancouver.

‘It’s not just an internal direct marketing event,’ Gustavson says. ‘It’s also an opportunity to make a statement externally, to the media, to government officials, and to other marketers.’

To that end, Gustavson will be using the occasion to announce two external relations initiatives – an advertising campaign on behalf of the direct marketing industry, and an educational program at the post-secondary level.

While he was reluctant to provide details of the advertising campaign before its official announcement at the opening general session the morning of April 20, Gustavson says the communications strategy reflects discoveries made in consumer focus groups conducted last year and will try ‘to build consumer confidence.’

Gustavson will also use his keynote speech to address a couple of issues: managing the basic changes in technology and the environment in which direct marketers work, and managing issues so they do not become threats.

He says privacy, building consumer confidence and convergence of telecommunications and broadcast technologies will each be addressed.

Wheaton says planning for the convention began last September, when the nine members of the program planning committee met to hash out a theme, make suggestions for speakers and canvas their colleagues for ideas they wanted brought to life.

She says the committee met 10 times before handing over the reins to cdma staff to flesh out.

Even before the annual convention gets under way, the broad strokes concerning the association’s one-day fall conference have already been applied.

It will be held Sept. 30 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

The theme is interactive marketing.