NCDM 2008 Recap: The Key Concepts All direct Marketers Must Know!

Having attended many of the sessions and keynotes at the 2008 National Center for Database Marketing (NCDM) conference in Kissimmee, Fla., last week, I came away with three key points that proved to be the overriding themes of the three-day event.
1. Know me and be relevant. During the first day’s keynote speech, Tom Boyles, SVP of global customer managed relationships for the Walt Disney Co., posited that relevance isn’t enough anymore. Disney achieves true one-to-one communication by connecting and engaging its customers and prospects emotionally to its products.
To achieve this, Disney’s taken its databases and developed what it calls a “real-time automated decision engine,” which drives its campaigns and all contact between its customers (who are called “guests”) and its staff and brand.
Disney strives for, and achieves, a high level of personalization in its marketing messages and customers’ experiences by collecting data at basically any and all contact points. It then uses that data to create specialized to-dos, maps, DVDs, welcome mailers and other things relevant to past behavior in sync with the actual life stages of its guests.


Let me know you enjoyed this article, or feel free to add something I have missed.  Go ahead, post a comment below

2. Engagement is the new black.
If there were a single concept to rise to the top this year, it would be the idea of engagement. As with Disney, all companies to some extent try to use their data to effectively engage their prospects and customers better.
Additionally, many companies now embrace blogs; viral campaigns; and other social media outlets such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook more than ever before. Some are succeeding, but it became clear that this emerging “technology” has some pitfalls — negative comments resulting in brand degradation to name one — along with benefits.
One thing is certain: While it’s possible to track ROI for social media through clicks, visits and even downstream orders, the measurement of engagement (and engagement itself) is something that hasn’t been mastered yet.
In essence, social media became a “player” this year.
3. Triggered campaigns offer the promise of one-to-one communication. In a case study session hosted by Bernice Grossman, principal consultant and founder of the database marketing consulting firm DMRS Group, three database marketing companies were given the challenge of how to send the “right response to the right person at the right time,” using modern campaign management “best-in-breed” solutions.
The companies — Alterian, smartFOCUS and Unica — showed, in real time while logged into their applications, the ease of use in developing triggered campaigns to both prospects and customers in a sort of “set it and forget it” manner. The triggered campaigns were based upon names on the file meeting certain criteria on a rolling basis (e.g., the last six months) in underperforming segments.
Each company in the “showdown” was given a dummy database that included contact and transactional information, along with gender and date of birth. From there the companies showed the audience how they used their solutions to create segmented, multiwave campaigns including birthday cards, offers and automated thank-you e-mails. The takeaway from this session was all about ease of use.

Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing, a full-service catalog and direct marketing agency. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at or you can post a comment here or e-mail him at You can also follow Jim on Twitter at

2 thoughts on “NCDM 2008 Recap: The Key Concepts All direct Marketers Must Know!

  1. David Howse says:

    Hi Jim,

    I came to your blog from your recent post on Facebook’s Marketing 2.0 group (I’m on of the admins there) – thanks for posting.

    Do you have any thoughts (software recommendations) on point 3 (above) when scalability is a big issue. I operate in a small city of 100,000 people and 3500 businesses (serving a regional population of about 200K).

    The problem is ROI when in investment is quite small. I guess this market has about 200 businesses willing to spend between $1K-$5K to put some form of direct e-Marketing in to play.



  2. Jim Gilbert says:

    David, good question. I’ve been thinking about that too and there is definitely a gap in the market of that kind of application. I wonder if any other readers know of a company who serves this market.


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