Icon Media Direct’s CEO Nancy Lazkani earns DRMA Member of the Year Award

(As published in the January 2013 issue of Response Magazine)

Response Magazine and the direct response marketing alliance (DRMA) salute Nancy Lazkani, long-time leader of Sherman Oaks, California – based Icon Media Direct, as the 2012 DRMA Member of the Year. Lazkani’s victory in an industry vote became official during a brief ceremony in front of more than 300 industry insiders at the DRMA Winter Bash in New York on December 11.

“Nancy’s dedication to the direct response business, along with her commitment to the growth and success of this business and the DRMA, earned the lion’s share of votes among our members and make her incredibly deserving of this Member of the Year honor,” says John Yarrington, publisher of Response and co-founder of the DRMA. “With more than 800 votes casted by our members, it’s clear that the competition was strong, and while Nancy has earned this award, the rest of our nominees earned their recognition as well.”

Recently, Response sat down with Lazkani to get her thoughts on being named the DRMA’s Second Annual Member of the Year.

Q:  What does it mean to you and your company to be named the DRMA Member of the Year?

A:  The recognition by industry peers is an honor beyond belief. Not only do I absolutely love what I do, but I am also very proud of how the industry has grown in the past 27 years. I am humbled by the recognition. It means more to me than a trophy that sits on a shelf. It is proof that if you do an honest job for all the right reasons, people will recognize it. It means that I have made my company proud, and it is a representation of their contributions, hard work and dedication as well. It means to my clients that the industry has recognized us as a well-respected leader. It means I must carry on the obligation to keep learning, growing and expanding our company’s expertise into the next generation of marketing. It means that when I start to feel tired, I need to keep going because people are watching, and I have to set an example. It means that all the hard work and effort is worth it through good times and bad. So, thank you to both friends and strangers who cast their vote in support of this honor.

Q: Why do you think your efforts and contributions to the DR business helped earn you this accolade?

A: My efforts are not just on my own behalf and that of my company, but also a desire to carry the torch for the direct response industry as a whole. Twenty-seven years ago, “direct response” were words that the advertising industry did not recognize as a legitimate business. It’s been a long and hard journey to get to where we are today. My efforts have always been centered on doing whatever it takes to make my clients successful. When you work with the mindset that whatever you do has an accountability and a measurement of success of failure, it’s what you do with those efforts and experiences that make a difference. When you have a team of experts who work hard to cultivate a community of companies that market products, it keeps the economy going. Media and marketing are only a small portion of the industry’s contribution. When we do all the right things for all the right reasons, it touches and helps others companies in the space to be successful. When we create successful media campaigns for our clients, we sell products, and someone has to make a phone call through a telemarketing service or go online to order a product through a web landing page, use a credit card to make a purchase, use a fulfillment company to put the product in a box and then ultimately use a shipping company to deliver the product. We need lawyers to protect our clients’ assets; we need trade associations to help keep the collaboration of industry experts together to lobby for all I just spoke about. So by being on the side of the fence that helps our great marketers – who are both entrepreneurs and corporate giants – we touch the lives of many. And if our efforts are smart and unselfish, we help to win the war in a down economy. I think about what my company’s efforts have contributed every time I walk through a Target, Wal-Mart or Bed Bath and Beyond – three of the largest retail giants in the United States— and I see so many products we represent. Products like OxiClean and Kaboom have had amazing journeys since their launched in the DR space, and now you find them in the laundry aisle in almost every retail store. They are the No. 1 stain fighting products in the category. Words cannot express how proud I am of that.

Q: How has the DRMA helped your business? What do you believe working with the DRMA does to create a better business atmosphere for you and the industry?

A: DRMA is an amazing constituent for our industry. Its leaders have devoted countless hours and have gone through so much to create a forum that is non-biased and represents its members for the purpose of helping our industry grow through collaboration. DRMA not only values the mature and long-standing industry leaders, but it also has done a great job in helping to recognize the new “up-and-comers” in our industry. DRMA has helped my business because it gives us a platform for education and keeping the networking events meaningful and collaborative. It feels like a big family reunion every time I attend and event and I support these efforts because it is what helps keep the industry and its reputation moving forward in a positive direction.

Q: What was the most significant accomplishment in the past year for your company?

A:  This past year was the year of going from “high touch” to “high tech.” We have invested in our efforts to get more efficient with our processes to deliver data and information faster and more efficiently to our clients. We have been working with our networks to transform our billing and information through automation, and – by doing this – it has enabled us to deliver paperless data feeds into our systems and, in turn, give clients what they want faster. We also continue to improve our proprietary Webtraxx® data tracking system. This is a very important part of the future, as consumers utilize the online community for order processing and information gathering. Being able to understand the data analytics behind our clients’ marketing efforts is the fundamental difference between direct response agencies and a typical general market agency that utilizes only ratings delivery to determine success. The traditional model of advertising is going the way of the dinosaur, and I know many heads of traditional agencies that are baffled and are just now starting to pay attention to what the clients are saying. The marketing is too fragmented not to pay attention to the data. Those who do and continue to work with companies to provide consumer data analytics will be the survivors. Many try to call it something different, but what this really is direct response. No one will ever perfect data algorithms, but as long as we keep trying and continue to be smarter about the clients’ marketing investments, their businesses will prosper and – at the end of the day – so will we.

Q: How did the successful products you worked with during the past year fit within the overall concept behind your company? Were any of those products so successful that they changes the way you do business? If so, how?

A: We have one client that has an online service that a utilized traditional agency and bought their media purely on a CPM basis. When we took over their media buying business, we did our research and homework on what the consumer profile was and layered that information with our database of consumer behavior for similar demographics. We then planned and bought our media around the research and WebTraxx® analysis and continued to optimize their campaign. The end result was a 30 percent increase in business over the prior year and a 60 percent expansion to other media properties, which meant new customers because we manage the campaign based on true accountability of results analytics.

Q: What is your outlook for the next 12 months?

A:  It’s about lifting more weights to continue to get stronger and build more muscle mass. Clients are looking for ways to put their advertising dollars to work, and I see confusion and more fragmentation in the marketing world. It’s kind of like the wild, wild west. But those companies that utilize agencies that are more efficient with advertising budgets and account for results are going win in the long run. So off to the weight room I go!


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