Silver Apples 2019
Meet the DMCNY 2019 Silver Apple Honorees
By Ginger Conlon | 11.12.19
Each year the DMCNY presents its highly distinguished Silver Apple Awards to several professionals who have at least 25 years in marketing and who not only have excelled in their careers, but also have generously contributed their talents and time to the marketing industry. We'll be introducing you to the 2019 honorees over the next few weeks, in advance of DMCNY's annual Silver Apples gala on November 7 at Edison Ballroom in New York.
CEO, Moore DM Group
Gretchen Littlefield has a depth of knowledge about the ever-transforming marketing landscape that makes her one of the key leaders and innovators in the nonprofit industry. She built that knowledge over the course of a rich and focused career. Most recently, Littlefield spent nearly 14 years at Infogroup, where she drove the overall management, strategic planning, and growth of its offerings to the nonprofit, political, and federal government sectors.
She had originally joined Infogroup-owned Triplex as executive vice president to focus exclusively on the nonprofit vertical. In 2008, she was promoted to president of Triplex, and, after the Triplex name was retired in 2010, she assumed responsibility for all of Infogroup's nonprofit offerings. Prior to joining Infogroup, Littlefield launched the fundraising program for
America Coming Together, which raised more than $80 million in two years, becoming the largest political action committee in the country. In March 2019, Littlefield joined Moore DM Group as its CEO.
Littlefield’s professional achievements also include being named Direct Marketing Educational Foundation (now Marketing EDGE) Rising Star. She gives her time and expertise to the industry through her many volunteer roles. She is a Marketing EDGE board trustee and a member of the Advisory Council for DMFA, and she served as a co-Chair of the DMA Nonprofit Federation's Government Affairs Committee. Along with all this, in 2018, she cofounded The Non-Profit Alliance and is currently its vice chairman.
What initially drew you to marketing?
In my case, it was a lucky accident. I was working in politics and was motivated by the idea of trying to do good in the world. That's also what attracted me to the nonprofit sector.
While working in politics, I figured out that I was very good at working with data. So, I started off working on voter files and building out strategies of who to contact to turn out to vote. I had a gift for it. That turned into direct marketing and sending out fundraising appeals for nonprofits. It was so intuitive for me; I really didn't have to spend a whole lot of time thinking about it. And it was great that I was doing the right thing. That evolved into working on commercial projects, as well.
While I love working in the commercial sector, I decided in 2018 to make the jump to Moore. The company has such a large footprint within the nonprofit sector. I'm drawn to the idea of how marketing can help make real change and do really good things. This was not the career that I expected to have when I was in high school, but I love it. It's the perfect marriage of mathematics and analytics. Those things have always been passions for me.
Tell us about a career highlight or turning point.
Going to Moore Group was a definite highlight. I met founder Jim Moore and we were talking about the industry and where things are going. I’d had this idea for a while that marketing automation, within direct mail specifically, is a huge opportunity to deliver efficiency and performance that can save a lot of money and time for the nonprofit sector, as well as deliver a true one-to-one marketing experience. Moore Group had all the elements and supply chain necessary to make that happen. They just weren't automated or connected to each other quite yet, so that's what we're working on right now.
What excites you most about marketing right now?
Automation. The idea of being able to automate the entire process of fundraising is so exciting to me. The world of traditional direct response is accelerating so quickly right now. Having data where decisions are made in a cloud environment and being pushed to digital channels and even printers is thrilling.
Share a treasured customer story.
I’ll tell you about an organization that works with helping children in the third world that I did some work with over a decade ago. At the time, the organization was sending about eight or nine million pieces of acquisition mail a year. They were challenged by an issue many direct-response marketers face: They were finding very few unique names within the output of their merges. All of the lists had already cannibalized each other, and co-ops were not working as well as expected.
We built them a marketing prospect database that included all nonprofit donors within the United States. We started mining that data. The models worked so well that for a while the organization was mailing pretty close to 90 million pieces of acquisition mail annually. That happened because the models were finding people outside of their traditional universes of names. They had a larger audience of people that they could have communicated to, they just weren't finding them in the traditional way.
This client had the ability to see into the future and recognize that if they didn't roll the dice right then, they were going to be in a really difficult place in five years. Back then, they had just thrived. By taking a different approach, the organization has grown by leaps and bounds.
It's a perfect example of where the industry is going in general. Modeling doesn't necessarily mean you're reaching fewer people. It means you're finding the people you need to reach, and successfully communicating to them.
Share a favorite data story.
I have more of a statement than a story.
Your data isn’t unique to your organization. Everybody has access to data. So, if you aren't participating in some sort of a marketing cloud or co-op where you're sharing data with other organizations, you're missing out on getting all the other intelligence that's out there in the sector.
The entire industry revolves around two factors: cooperation and competition. This is especially true with data. Again, you don't have any households that are unique. Everybody is competing against each other to reach the same exact individuals or households, but we are all dependent on each other in terms of every list, every database. They all have some sort of element of cooperation. That is what drives the entire industry forward. That's why all data companies also work with each other and send data files back and forth — there's nothing truly unique; you need your competitors to be successful.
What's your go-to marketing metric?
Everything in marketing operates off recency. No matter what channel or what type of action, how recently a person took an action is the single greatest predictor of whether somebody's going to do something again.
So, the quicker you get information on somebody is why marketing automation works. It speeds up the process of delivering a message to someone. The timing and speed of responding after somebody has taken an action — that's most important.
What's one piece of advice for someone just starting out in marketing?
Think long term in the way that you treat other people. And be kind to your competitors. You’re going to be working with the same people in the industry over and over again throughout your career.
What was the best piece of business advice you’ve received?
Don't get stuck thinking that there are certain rules you have to follow. Just because something worked in the past, doesn't mean it's going to work again in the future. If a certain type of copy performed a certain way in an email 10 years ago or a year ago or last week, doesn't mean it's necessarily going to work the same way in the future. The whole world is changing all the time.
Do you have either a personal motto or an inspiring quote that guides you?
Not a motto; more like a moral compass. I consider whether my actions today will bring goodness to people, or will they bring bad things? So, if what I'm doing, or what our team is doing, is not creating good, it's probably not something we should be doing. Doing good is why we got into the nonprofit business in the first place.
What's something surprising about you?
I think people are always surprised to hear that, growing up, I was an introvert and a little bit of an intellectual. In high school, I was a mathlete and a Future Farmer of America.
What are a few of your interests outside work?
I love boating, and I like being on the water. I love politics, so that's my favorite sport. I love reading about it and debating about it. I grew up in a family that was very political; every holiday was 50 different members of our family stuffed into the house, screaming and yelling about politics — that's probably what started me down this path.
What's your hidden skill?
I would say I have this bizarre sense of direction, where I almost never get lost; I sort of intuitively know most of the time which direction to go. If I've been someplace before, it’s like I have a photographic memory; I'll know how to get back there without having to use GPS.
Meet the other 2019 DMCNY Silver Apple honorees:
Carl Horton Jr., Associate Partner, IBM
Gretchen Littlefield, CEO, Moore DM Group
Joe Pych, Cofounder and CEO, Bionic Advertising Systems, and Founder and CEO, NextMark
Britt Vatne, President, Data Management, ALC
2019 Apple of Excellence, Advocacy:
Tony Hadley, Senior Vice President, Regulation & Public Policy, Experian
2019 Apple of Excellence Disruptor:
Mayur Gupta, Chief Marketing Officer, Freshly
Corporate Golden Apple:
About the Author
Ginger Conlon, editorial advisor at DMCNY's MKTGinsight, catalyzes change in marketing organizations. Ginger is editor-in-chief of MediaVillage and president of DMCNY. She is a frequent speaker on marketing and customer experience, and serves in advisory or leadership roles for several industry organizations. Ginger was honored with a Silver Apple lifetime achievement award for her contributions to the marketing industry.