RSVP honorees summarize the year gone by and prophesize on what’s to come

Strategy Direct+Interactive asked two of Canada's top direct marketing practitioners to share their insights on recent developments and the future of the industry. Since Hugh Furneaux, president of Toronto-based Ariad Communications, and Mona Goldstein, president The Goldstein Group, also of Toronto, both were honored last month at The Canadian Marketing Association's annual RSVP Awards Gala, we chose them as our resident Yodas, to put some context behind the year that was and to look at what's looming on the horizon. Furneaux received the CMA lifetime achievement award and Goldstein took the CMA Directors' Choice Award home. Here's what each had to say.

Strategy Direct+Interactive asked two of Canada’s top direct marketing practitioners to share their insights on recent developments and the future of the industry. Since Hugh Furneaux, president of Toronto-based Ariad Communications, and Mona Goldstein, president The Goldstein Group, also of Toronto, both were honored last month at The Canadian Marketing Association’s annual RSVP Awards Gala, we chose them as our resident Yodas, to put some context behind the year that was and to look at what’s looming on the horizon. Furneaux received the CMA lifetime achievement award and Goldstein took the CMA Directors’ Choice Award home. Here’s what each had to say.

Hugh Furneaux

President, Ariad Communications

On what dominated the agenda this year:

Privacy has been the biggest issue. One of the areas that seems to rouse the most passion is the need or the requirement to have consent for the use of personal information. It’s certainly demanded by politicians and many individuals, and it presents a major problem for traditional direct marketers.

Another one of the things I’m observing is a growth in e-mail marketing and online direct marketing. Our business has gone from almost $0 in that area two years ago, to over $1 million this year – clients like TD Canada Trust, American Express and publisher CCH have adopted it big time.

On what we can expect to see happen in the industry over the next twelve months:

The interesting thing is that in difficult times, many marketers actually turn to direct marketing rather than general advertising, and the reason is that they can measure results. So if these economic times continue, then I think you’ll see a continuation, possibly an increase, in the use of direct marketing through the next twelve months.

If there’s any change at all, it’s going to be a requirement or demand on the part of clients to provide even more accountability for the print materials that they do. It’s not going to be sufficient to just send out a newsletter, you’ll need to somehow incorporate a response element that is measurable.

The only other thing I can see being a challenge is how to integrate the various new technologies with the traditional disciplines when it comes to marketing and advertising.

And on winning the RSVP Lifetime Achievement award…

I was involved with the board and the executive of what was once the CDMA, and those were the some of the most enjoyable business experiences that I have had – other than running my own business. Therefore, to receive recognition from peers I respect so much was a very high honour.

Mona Goldstein

President, The Goldstein Group

On top direct marketing developments of the past year:

The wonderful thing about direct marketing today is how widespread it is and how it has been inculcated into Canada’s business fabric. Because of this pervasiveness, it’s hard to pinpoint trends the way we used to. I suppose I would say that this has been a year of soberness – from the crash of the fantasy dot-coms, to a tightening of the economy and associated focus on accountability and results, to this aura of uncertainty that pervades all aspects of our lives now.

As a marketer, I think the most exciting trend this year has been the ‘mainstreaming’ of the Internet and its incredible potential to both transform operational business practices and to market in a truly relevant way to consumers. And of course, we now have a Canadian Privacy law that will have a deep impact on how we treat our customers’ personal information.

On receiving the RSVP Directors’ Choice Award:

Winning the award was the biggest surprise of my professional life. It wasn’t even on my radar that I might be a candidate this year. Quite a few people knew about it, given that the CMA Board approves the Directors’ Choice, but they all kept the secret and I was clueless. I am of course tremendously grateful to John, Judy and the entire Board for this recognition. CMA has been such a terrific organization to be involved with all these years and I’ve always felt I got more than I gave.

On what to look for in the coming year:

I’m with Mark Twain on this one: ‘The art of prophecy is very difficult – especially with respect to the future.’ I don’t like to make predictions, but I do have a few wishes for next year:

* I wish for continued acceleration of our learning around how to use all the communications tools together

* I wish for a change in the fundraising trend of fewer people giving more

* I wish for more planning and less frantic implementation