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Interview with Direct Marketing Maven Leon Henry


Post Date: January 22, 2014
By: Stephanie Miller

We caught up with partnership marketing consultant and industry legend Leon Henry, founder, President and CEO of Leon Henry, Inc.  Throughout his successful career, Leon has been recognized many times and in many ways because of his contributions and his win-win attitude.  “The players have changed, but the game has been the same,” he says.  “Our approach is to find a given marketing situation and see if there is an opportunity for another marketer to partnership for mutual profit.”

We offer our own celebration (and a thank you for his long-standing DMA membership!) in this Q&A.

Leon Henry

DMA Q1.  Nearly all marketing is “data-driven” today  - it’s all about right message, right person, right time, right channel.   The people with the most experience in doing response-based marketing are the direct marketers.   Do you think direct marketers are stepping up to meet the challenge and take a leadership role?  

Leon:   This is a tricky question.  My take on marketing is large or small, companies strive to do what is best for them.  Since my knowledge and expertise is in insert media which is made up of mostly small size brokerage and management companies, the leadership mantle is hard for any one company to  assume.  Collectively, insert media associations have not done well but do keep trying as evidenced by the upcoming Insert Media lunch hosted by the Hudson Valley DM Club.

DMA Q2.  What is your advice for people looking to have a great career in marketing today?

Leon: I jumped in with both feet and no money nearly 58 years ago.  Nowadays, entrepreneurs jump in full body with lots of money.  Seriously, I would suggest getting a job with a company that is marketing driven and in a position hopefully where you can contribute and be measured for and by your results.

DMA Q3.  Direct marketing has been around for decades, and it’s always been about ROI and measurement and accountability.  What can we learn from the past that will help us improve our current marketing efforts? 

Leon:  Marketing is marketing.  You have a product or service to sell, an audience to reach and media to do so.  The one lesson to be learned is  not to stay too long if the sales curve starts to flatten out or turn down.  Just think of the photo developing by mail which was a very large component of direct marketing.  It does not exist anymore. 

DMA Q4.  What is the good news for insert marketing and audience development?

Leon:  Insert media has come a long way but it still has a long way to go.  Even with the attraction of search engine marketing, inserts provide inexpensive, direct to the customer media with a proven track record of success.   Mailers using insert media have found that any rise in pricing resulting from the increases in postage has been less on a percentage basis than the postage rise.  The competition among insert programs also has a mitigating effect on pricing.   

Each rise in postage has also brought out more companies seeking the revenue to be had by accepting outsider non-competitive advertisers in their packages, statements, catalogs and other venues to their customers.  The good news here is the increased visibility that brings additional companies inquiring about the revenue to be obtained.  The offset as mentioned above is the increased circulation that leads to price negotiation. 

DMA Q5.  Is there an important role for a trade association in today’s marketing?  What do you look for your trade association partners to provide?

Leon: Absolutely.  My problem which I have expressed at great length and quite vocally is the infatuation of all marketers with the new media.  There has always  been “new” media which captures attention for the short term.  The trade association problem from my point of view is the lack of attention to the “old” media.

DMA Q6.  What is your prediction for data-driven and direct marketing in 2014?  Where is the opportunity – and potential pitfall?

Leon: If I could predict, I would be in the stock market.  Print including insert media and lists is not going away and should be considered part of the marketing mix.

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