Member Spotlight: Emerging Leader

Lesley Hostetter was named DMAW’s 2013 “Emerging Leader” during Best of Direct in December. Her secrets? Since graduating from St. Michael’s College in Burlington, VT, this New York native spent about a dozen years on both sides of the DM world – agency and nonprofit – and says her best advice for engaging donors is pretty basic: Create real relationships. Lesley lives with her husband, Adam; daughter, Eliza; and dog, Tilley.

As DMAW’s 2013 Emerging Leader, we’re pretty sure you follow emerging trends in direct marketing and fundraising. What are your observations?
There are lots of different stats out there, but it’s clear that we are being bombarded by hundreds if not thousands of marketing messages every day. This makes our job even harder. To stand out, nonprofits need to put the donor at the heart of every communication. Multi-channel campaigns are obviously critical, and must have clear and personalized calls-to-action.

There are certainly many advancements in technology that can help nonprofits raise awareness and raise money more efficiently. Yet, our focus – and where we see the biggest payoff – is on something basic, but often overlooked: creating strong, meaningful relationships with donors. Building lasting relationships requires relevant messaging through a mix of channels, offering opportunities for two-way dialogue, and donor stewardship that reports back on the donor’s impact. Using each touch point to advance the donor’s relationship is easier said than done and involves a lot of pre-planning on a segment-level.

Nobody accomplishes what you have without help. Who would you like to credit in your career path so far?
Like many others, I feel indebted to Greg Adams for spending so much of his own time educating his employees. His training gave me a solid foundation in direct response marketing – I still have my DM101 binder in my office!

I also owe quite a lot to Tiffany Neill and Lisa Maska for guiding me from tactician to strategist. I am extremely grateful for everything that these two smart and creative women have taught me.

What do you forecast for direct marketing in the year 2020?
It’s hard to know what will happen six years from now… but my guess is we’ll be trying to understand the preferences and behavior of today’s seniors. They’ll be giving online more frequently, but many will still prefer putting checks in the mail. I think we’ll be using “smart” rather than “big” data to refine and target messaging to our core audience.

As an industry, I hope we’ll have realized that we need to make a stronger effort to make monthly giving the norm. We need to educate younger generations now so they understand that sustainer giving is the most effective way to support their favorite charities. When they make the decision to give, they should think, “Of course I’ll give monthly. Is there even another choice?”

Marketing AdVents is published monthly by the Direct Marketing Association of Washington, Inc. to inform its 1,000 + members in the Mid-Atlantic region of current DMAW events and programs, present articles of professional interest and provide marketing professionals the tools and education to excel in the direct marketing arena.