The increasing demands that companies are placing on their direct marketing departments seem to parallel those that we as consumers place on car companies. Every five years the number of features that we consider to be "standard" has multiplied; however, the price we are willing to pay for the vehicle is roughly the same.
In the good old days, direct marketing had a well-defined role: maximize the value it created from its marketing campaigns. This required the direct marketer to understand a finite set of media (direct mail, outbound calls, inserts, catalogs, etc.) and customer responsiveness to varying media and product combinations. Further, the timeline for most "learning loops" was relatively long-lived - often lasting three to six months from ideation to final campaign insight development.
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