FYI Blog

Rick Powell: DMAW Hall of Leaders Award Winner

Each year, the DMAW awards a special honor to the talented, innovative and intelligent DMAW Members who collectively have made extraordinary contributions to the organization and to the direct marketing industry over the course of his or her career.

We were delighted that this year’s award honored Rick Powell at the DMAW Best of Direct celebration. As founder, president, and CEO of PMG, Rick and his team have always been there for Avalon and our clients—managing projects, cutting costs, finding innovative solutions, and delivering impeccable on-time results.

In case you missed it, I’ve included part of Rick’s speech that really resonated with me. He so eloquently described the challenges our industry has faced in the past few years as digital marketing has found a foothold and disrupted the status quo. But he looks forward to the future as, together, we discover new ways to combine digital and direct mail to further benefit our clients. Rick closed with this tribute to the work we all do: I love being a part of a community whose singular purpose is to create, produce and deliver an exceptional outcome that helps to make our world a better place.


Excerpt from Rick Powell’s speech at the Best of Direct:

2008 marked the beginning of a very tough time for our direct mail suppliers. The combination of commercial direct mail budgets shifting to digital and the economy tanking greatly reduced demand, which created a huge glut of direct mail goods and services. Since then, a lot of businesses, large and small, have collapsed and tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs. This trend will continue into 2016 and beyond as consolidation rips through the printing and mailing industry in its quest to remove excess supply and stabilize prices.

What worries me is the long term effect this economic climate will have on our suppliers. With fewer buyers and underutilized capacity, the suppliers left standing will continue to lower their margin targets in an attempt to achieve incremental gains in market share. Lower margins means less money for investment in things like infrastructure, innovation, and especially people. Then end result is the product sold becomes just another commodity, and the value-added is removed.

A vendor sells a commodity, like the guy who sells hot dogs at the ballpark. The only value added he brings is ketchup or mustard. Our suppliers are much more than that – as our partner they provide the goods and services and the experience that we all rely on to get our materials printed and mailed. They provide the intangible – things like invaluable insight and innovative solutions, the value added, that insures OUR success.

I think all of us here tonight who depend on the print and mail community will agree that the suppliers we work with are some of the best in our industry. So to our fellow DMAW member suppliers, a huge thank you for hanging in there and keeping the lights on for us.

I think you would agree that it is a very interesting period for direct response as the digital space matures and moves to center stage. 18 years ago I thought direct mail fundraising had a relatively short shelf life, predicting 15 years max before it became obsolete, owing primarily to the disruptive nature of the internet. But instead, digital and direct mail are collaborating in ways that benefit both – most importantly higher collective response rates. That is really good news for you and me!