May 032011

Why Winning Matters (Especially When You’re Young)

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has long been a leading voice for direct marketing for nearly 100 years – back when direct marketing was really only about postal. It has evolved in that time to include phone, fax (for the nanosecond that was relevant), and then interactive tactics, including email. While the DMA has not always incorporated the new technologies in the most elegant way – the tendency has been to apply previous best practices, even when consumers have demanded a new way of thinking – the organization has made tremendous strides in recent years to re-shape itself into an organization that will be relevant for another 100 years.

And one way it is doing that is by supporting and recognizing achievements among start-ups and new ventures, they’ve announced a new award called the Early Stage Innovation Award.

As a DMA Board member and mentor of TechStars/SeedCamp companies, I am happy to see my two interests coming together in this way. Return Path’s own history of innovation and supporting new companies that are at the leading edge of the progress of direct marketing (including email) is well documented.

I’ve said that marketing is like eating French fries (and ice cream— I like snack-based analogies) and it’s hard to know when to stop grabbing for just one more. There’s always one more thing you can do to position your company and gain awareness. But I can give you a tip. This award? It’s a fry worth eating.

Awards don’t just make you feel you great; they can provide credibility in a crowded marketplace. What’s important about this Early Stage Innovation award is the exposure. Being industry-acknowledged as a company that makes new rules or changes the game? That’s the kind of ROI and opportunity that a growing company can really run with.

The other thing I love about awards and the shows where they are presented is the chance to learn about what’s new and interesting. Attending these shows helps link me to companies who may be creating tools that I didn’t even realize I was lacking and may not have heard about otherwise. I get the opportunity to learn more about problems other companies may be facing as well as seeing the solutions being proposed. For a smaller, new company, this chance to connect may lead to the support they need to grow and eventually be eligible for accolades in growth and long-term success.

If your young company is doing something new and innovative in direct marketing, consider submitting for an award. But hurry! Entries are due by May 15. Finalists will be selected and showcased during our ALL FOR ONE Marketing Summit June 20-21 in New York NY. I’m looking forward to hearing about these exciting new companies at the Summit.