At the Front Door: How First Impressions Serve a Brand

First impressions deliver impact. For nearly 33 years until this week, the Direct Marketing Association demonstratively put its best foot forward through its reception steward Curley Hudson.

Whenever a member, prospective member, or guest visited the DMA office in Midtown NYC, Curley was there to greet them. Whenever a phone call was connected to a live voice off the general number, it was usually Curley with whom the caller spoke. And many, many times, Curley was one masterful ambassador when a consumer called with a concern: oftentimes, Curley transformed hostility — about “junk mail,” “annoying phone calls” and “spam” — to empowerment, hopefulness and even tranquility. (I’m sure there were some incurable complainers amid the mix.)

Year in, year out. Dozens of visitors per day — and dozens more by telephone.

DMA also made sure Curley staffed the desk at conference headquarters at the association’s annual event, bringing that same can-do attitude to all types of on-site problem-solving — making connections happen for the betterment of all.

Practically everyone in our field knows Curley, or at least knows Curley’s voice, and the adjectives we use to describe her are truly ones we value: optimistic, patient, understanding, resourceful … an embodiment of the power of positive thinking.

That’s why DMA and direct marketing have been honored to have Curley on our team. She is what some might call a brand asset. But for many of us, she is a loving friend, and a steady face among constant change.

In the early 90s, during the heyday of the Total Quality Management and prior to email, my employer (DMA) gave us mirrors to place by our telephones. We taped the word “opportunity” to the handset. The goal was to remind ourselves to smile when answering the phone – because that smile is conveyed in our tone and in perception on the other end of the line. In every 1:1 connection there is indeed an opportunity, for selling, for service, for solutions, whatever we are charged with. But I already had that lesson in just watching and listening to Curley go about her work.



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