Greenglass sees better times ahead for industry

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Cyndi Greenglass, president of agency services at Diamond Marketing Solutions, a full-service direct marketing company based in Naperville, Ill., was named chairwoman of the Direct Marketing Association’s B-to-B Council in October. Greenglass, who previously was co-chair of the council, recently spoke with BtoB about her goals for the organization and the outlook for the direct marketing industry in 2004.

BtoB: What are your goals as the newly appointed head of the B-to-B Council?

Greenglass: We want to expand our membership base to include b-to-b marketers that do not necessarily perceive themselves as direct marketers but engage in direct marketing as part of their business. I’d also like to increase awareness [of the B-to-B Council] within the DMA itself and the membership at large. We want to try to do more partnerships with other councils and joint events with other councils where appropriate.

BtoB: What are the biggest opportunities for b-to-b direct marketers in 2004?

Greenglass: Lead generation and channel optimization are good opportunities. As the economy continues to improve and as companies begin to increase their investment, they can increase their activity in lead generation and sales activity.

People are starting to look outward again. Direct marketing techniques are being used more and more to help in targeting and successful acquisition and lead generation.

BtoB: What are the biggest challenges facing b-to-b direct marketers in 2004?

Greenglass: The continuing lag in the economy is always a challenge. We’re starting to see signs it’s turning, but it’s still really slow. We want to see the economy pick up. It’s a concern for us.

Another area of concern for us is talent. [The goal is] to get new practitioners to select business marketing as an exciting career. We’re not the first choice on the list when people think, "I want a career in marketing."

One of our main goals within the council is a mentoring program to introduce people who are new to business marketing, to encourage them to stay in b-to-b and to get them excited about the b-to-b [career] opportunity.

BtoB: Is 2004 going to be better, worse or about the same as 2003 for direct marketers?

Greenglass: It will be better. Businesses all held back in 2003 and focused internally. They cut their marketing departments and overhead. But you can’t cost manage your way to success. You have to spend money to make money.

We’re starting to see companies recruit actively for salespeople again, looking at channel partnerships more actively. You see an increase in acquisition activity. That bodes well.

Search engine optimization and e-commerce are huge. Direct mail continues to be the workhorse as a way to contact and influence b-to-b decision-makers at all levels of an organization.

BtoB: How will companies deal with ongoing legislative concerns in areas such as e-mail and telemarketing?

Greenglass: Privacy is a concern in the b-to-b community, and we’re watching it closely. Companies are putting very aggressive spam filters in place, and, in doing so, it creates real challenges. A large volume of e-mail being filtered out is legitimate business communications. The pendulum has had to swing so far because companies don’t want e-mail filling up their servers.

But that has made traditional and responsible users really careful and reluctant to use e-mail marketing. They’re looking for other ways like direct mail, which is picking back up. It’s tried and true, and it doesn’t have the negative perception that e-mail or calling has.

Hopefully, as we get more responsible and able to control the flow of spam, companies will be able to loosen up their spam filters and the legitimate e-mail will come in.

I don’t hear among b-to-b marketers that the do-not-call [registry is] affecting the way they behave in b-to-b.

Businesspeople need information. They don’t object to targeted inbound calls to their offices. Everyone just wants to be very careful and understand the heightened sensitivity, and ultimately we want to behave responsibly.

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