Institute of Direct Marketing Members’ Convention

Some observations on the recent IDM Members’ Convention. The first time it’s been run, and part of the IDM’s 20th anniversary programme, this “by the members for the members” event consisted of a day of talks and sessions on the latest issues in direct, digital and interactive marketing.

Opening up was Richard Madden of ad agency Tequila, with the flamboyant and off-beat look at the state of the industry that you would expect from an agency guy! “Customised” Relationship Management is the way forward according to Madden, delivering a customer experience tailored for individuals. Also on stage was Stephen Groom from Osborne Clarke, the only man to make a data protection presentation interesting! (His firm maintains quite a useful marketing law site at The venerable Peter Simpson, now chairman of Data Lateral and previously one of the guiding minds behind the launch of First Direct, closed out the day with some thoughts for the future.

The day though also consisted of some break-out sessions, one of which focussed on Web 2.0 and the increasing use marketers are making of the various emerging online communities, such as MySpace and YouTube. The definition of Web 2.0, we were by the way informed, is anything “participatory” or that involves interaction and feedback from website visitors and so on. This includes blogs of course, and although it’s rather fashionable to write about blogs in blogs, I’d thought I’d chip in.

Perhaps one of the most well known business blogs at the moment is Charles Dunstone’s, CEO of Carphone Warehouse. He of course had to defend Talk Talk, CPW’s fixed telecoms and broadband operation, when its “free” broadband offer proved a little too popular. This highlights the dangers of blogging, and Web 2.0 in general, in a business context, as it can be difficult to control the message, especially when things aren’t going so well. The lesson seems to be that if you’re going to do it, be honest and don’t go to ground if problems arise: address them and respond to feedback and criticism. The relationship between the original free-wheeling ethos of the Internet and the desire for commercial exploitation can be a tense one, but eschewing this philosophy when the chips are down is a sure route to ignominy and derision.

Hopefully not a problem I’ll face here!

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