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Educate for Success—Why I Attended DM101 and You Should Too

Are you fresh on the direct mail scene—a newbie like me? If so, the DMAW’s DM 101: The Basics seminar is one you don’t want to miss.

Direct mail is a beautiful mystery—as I continue to learn and create within this industry, I’ve quickly discovered that I mustn’t forget the basics. Having a direct mail education is fundamental to being successful within this industry. Whether you work for an agency, nonprofit, production company, or analytics firm, having a solid foundation and understanding of direct mail is essential.

Thus, I was excited to find that this DM 101 seminar covered everything from A–Z: creative, lists, data hygiene/processing, production services, data capture/caging, database analytics, online marketing, and telefundraising.

Senior Vice President of Avalon Consulting Kerri Kerr’s presentation on creative was extremely impactful. One memorable piece of advice she shared with the room was, “Don’t market to yourself, go by what the numbers show you.”

When we are creating campaigns, we can become bound by our own thoughts and preferences, essentially marketing to ourselves based on what we like and what entices us to donate to our favorite organizations. However, you must keep your clients’ audience top of mind, while being creative and looking at your results. I learned that results tell the story and the creative piece shows the story. Every part of the direct mail process is critical in its own way—it’s like a food chain: one cannot successfully function without the other.

No matter which program you work on—acquisition, donor, sustainer, lapsed—they all require creative and data. With a strong house file and clean data, you can increase the performance of your direct mail campaign. Having a strategy and action plan in place is a part of the foundation you need to be successful. Jeanette Cassano, senior vice president of Belardi/Wong, said, “Within the direct mail industry, we need to have transparency.” Clean data allows us to be transparent in our plan to achieve the best outcome for our client but also for ourselves.

By attending this seminar, not only did I get to meet direct mail experts, but I also had the chance to form relationships with people just like me—people who are new to the industry and have a passion to help others and further their clients’ missions.

The experience was extremely educational and informative, and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with others and applying these methods to future campaigns. Look out, world—this rookie’s got big plans for the future!

Did you miss DM101? Or, did you miss sending your staff to DM101? No worries, you can still attend DM101 in Philadelphia on Wednesday, April 25. For more information and to register, click here.

Jasmine Turner is an Account Coordinator for the CDR Fundraising Group and can be reached at