Direct Choice’s Lonnie Bidwell—IT wizard—sat down to talk about the magic behind what he does, being a perfectionist, and turkey sandwiches.
How did you get into this business—accident or plan?
LB: A bit of both, actually. My dad had a data processing company. I started there at 16, working in the mail shop, eventually working up to computer operator before heading college. Took to it immediately, so I guess it was in my DNA.
What did you study in college?
LB: Surprise—computer system technology! This is the “plan” part of the first question.
Describe what you do in 10 words or less.
LB: I can do it in seven! “Turn data into a useful marketing tool.” It’s my passion. I take disparate data sources in multiple formats, get it all into a common format, apply business rules—which are ours as well as our clients’—and the result is a clean data set for any purpose. Each project is different, and I like that there is a new and different challenge every day.
What’s the biggest concern in the data world today?
LB: Without question, everyone is focused on data security. Data is a major asset to any organization, and the privacy of us all is at stake, so it is vital to protect. It’s an ongoing best practice we support with constant vigilance via technology and software. You really can’t overstate how critical it is and the requirement to be on top of it. Every direct marketer and brand has to make this a major priority today.
How does your personality affect your work?
LB: I’m an extremely detail oriented person. Everyone here knows this. So do my kids! You have to have that kind of attention to detail in what I do. The devil is in the details in direct marketing, especially in programming-it is all details, actually. So being a perfectionist is a good thing when it comes to coding and handling all the minutiae of our campaigns. I don't leave anything to chance.
What should brands be doing more of?
LB: There are such gems buried deep in customer data. With what we can do today, we can enable really smart and targeted outreaches to keep brands relevant in customers’ lives. So many products and services are extremely entwined in everyday consumer existences. This is the goal of most brands, and it’s a never-ending question of “How can we interact most effectively with the customers we have?”. So it's about new IT products and ways to integrate with campaigns.
What’s a perfect day for you?
LB: I’m a huge family guy. So a road trip, a sporting event, the beach, anything as long as we’re together.
What would people be surprised to hear about you?
LB: I read only physical books. Not a Kindle or iPad guy. Kind of a shock in that technology is my career. But I’m totally old-school about books.
Lunch—at your desk or out?
LB: I am an at-my-desk person. Homemade turkey sandwich, with a ton of pickles on the side.
Direct Choice Inc. is a full-service direct marketing agency that has worked with national and regional brands in a wide variety of vertical markets. In addition to this blog, you can also find us on , , and