Archive for March, 2013


Ben Franklin

After earning an undergraduate degree in history, I went on to study marketing, advertising and even spent a few years at CUNY’s School of Architecture all of which helped establish the foundation upon which I’ve built my career. But to this day, history remains my passion and as such, I view things in historical contexts, as I do here with this exploration of the history of omni-channel marketing and commerce.

 Pioneers in direct, digital and social, from Ben Franklin, who devised a system to deliver his Poor Richard’s Almanac that ultimately became the USPS®, to visionaries like Brin, Dorsey, Karp, Page, and  Zuckerberg, all ushered in transformations in communications and commerce. In the beginning, local shopkeepers, intimate with their customers’ personal wants and needs, were the first true direct merchants. Early catalogers were the first to expand beyond their physical domains to bring their wares directly to their customers.

 These pioneers established the foundation of what was soon to become known as “direct marketing”. The simple media mix of catalogs, physical mail and person-to-person sales soon expanded to include DRTV, direct response print and other new channels and tactics. Expansion into broadcast media revolutionized direct marketing in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

 In the 90s, the early Internet, sometimes referred to as the “information super-highway”, was initially viewed as just another communications channel. With the advent of e-commerce, however, new e-business ventures proved that considerable revenue could be generated in virtual sales environments. Unfortunately, many of these new e-businesses lacked financial viability and ultimately, were not sustainable.

 After the first web bubble burst, a second chapter began. With the growth of peer-to-peer communications and the creation of social networks, marketers discovered they were no longer masters of their own domains. Web 2.0 was born, revolutionizing the Internet by putting consumers, not companies, in control of the market dynamic.  Which brings us to Direct 2.0, DVI’s new paradigm for next-generation marketers.

 Direct 2.0 is the perfect blend of direct, digital, social and mobile marketing. Web 3.0 may be the next big thing (or have we breezed right by to Web 4.0?) and we’re even heard talk of “4D printing”, now being contemplated at MIT, where individual physical objects created using 3D printers actually self-assemble themselves. Think Star Trek “food synthesizers” applied to e-commerce -- place an online order in the not too distant future, and it may one day instantly materialize in your affordable personal 4D printer all ready to go!

 Moore’s Law, which states that technological capabilities double every two years, seems quaint and obsolete as the pace of change accelerates. Knowing where we’ve been and how we’ve gotten to where we are is important. But having a sense of where we’re headed is even more so. So do learn from the past but more importantly, stay tuned for the future!