Live from DMA08: 'r u Connected?' That Is the Question for Direct Marketers, Says DMA President & CEO
October 13, 2008 — “Making interactive connections in today’s multichannel digital universe is what DMA08 is all about,” said Direct Marketing Association (DMA) President & CEO John A. Greco, Jr., as he welcomed attendees from around the globe to the DMA08 Conference & Exhibition in Las Vegas. “Making vital connections is my message to you here this morning,” Greco said.
The opening session also included talks by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and outgoing DMA Chairman Donn Rappaport, as well as video messages from Senator John Ensign (R-NV), Senator Mike Crapo (R-NV), and Edouard Dayan, director general of the International Bureau of the Universal Postal Union. DMA08 is being held at the Las Vegas Convention Center through October 16.
Acknowledging the difficulties all marketers face in the current financial climate, Greco stressed the importance of clarity and unity. “We come together in uncertain times,” Greco said. “We have a close election pending, and real uncertainty about the global economy. And anyone who hopes to succeed in times like these, I believe, must be able to separate the things you can control from the things you can’t.”
“Asking ‘r u Connected?’ is critical to this entire process, on both sides of the equation,” Greco said, pointing to three specific ways of getting connected. “First of all, as marketers we need to constantly make connections with people and organizations that are our customers, donors, and prospects.
“Second, the connections we can make with one another and the greater community around us. No one can afford to go it alone in this environment, so cultivating these connections can have a lot of value.
“Third, and — perhaps most important of all — it’s very clear that the future of all marketing lies in connecting the channels, most of which are direct marketing, direct response channels. Connecting the channels will allow marketers to continue to connect with customers. Integrated marketing communications, personalized, relevant and timely is a vision of the future that many marketers now share. We all have a lot to do to make that vision real.”
In spite of a challenging economic year, direct marketers have a great deal to be proud of, Greco pointed out. “Overall US Gross Domestic Product continues to benefit from the growth we generate. Across all economic sectors, direct marketing adds incremental final demand representing nearly 10 percent of total US GDP.”
In terms of 2008 sales, he noted that well over $2 trillion worth of sales will have been driven by direct marketing offers across all the addressable, interactive, direct response channels. “Sales driven by Internet and email marketing will exceed $500 billion this year,” he said. “[And] a total of more than $702 billion of sales is being driven by the mail channel, including nearly $155 billion in catalog sales.”
DMA’s Mission: Keeping Marketing Channels Open, Economically Vital
Greco emphasized that ensuring an open marketplace is vital to DMA’s mission. “We are going to keep every single channel open and economically viable, so that every marketer and every consumer can interact and communicate in whatever way is best suited to that direct relationship,” Greco said. “DMA is the only association dedicated to this vision. It’s your association.”
Marketers join and participate in DMA’s work for a host of reasons, Greco explained. “Most see it as an excellent way to help minimize the risk of forces they can’t control, such as new laws to prohibit targeted ads based on behavioral marketing data, or a Do Not Mail registry, either state or federal. DMA is leading the charge on both these issues and others. We depend on support from the direct marketing community to achieve our goals.”
Greco highlighted DMA’s work combating one of the foremost threats facing direct marketers today, that of proposed Do Not Mail legislation. This year, he noted, 12 states have proposed 15 Do Not Mail bills. “Thanks to the efforts of the direct marketing community — specifically DMA and the coalition we established, Mail Moves America — none of these bills were passed.
“But the movement pushing for them — well funded with tens of millions of dollars — will continue, and they’ll be back in many states for the new legislative session next year,” he cautioned.
Looking forward on this important issue, Greco told the DMA08 audience, “On behalf of the entire community, DMA established an extensive outreach to fight Do Not Mail over the long term. We’ve put a solid strategy in place, and set tactical plans to reach and engage legislators, our own members, the media, and directly with consumers themselves.”
However, he added, “To succeed, this will require a sustained effort and extraordinary resources and support from across the entire direct marketing community.”
Do Not Mail, however, is only one of the challenges facing marketers, Greco explained. “Today,” he said, “we have a challenge with Do Not Mail but other ‘Do Not’ Ideas — Do Not Track, Do Not Retain, Do Not Contact — maybe Do Not Market?”
In this political climate, Greco warned that marketers could face a slippery slope that could drive direct marketing out of business. “So we must be very careful at every step, and not only advocate with lawmakers but also carefully protect the image of the direct marketing process,” he told the opening general session attendees.
To help address this challenge, as well as to foster consumer choice and trust, Greco announced the launch of DMAchoice.org, a new Web portal where “we’re inviting consumers in for a ‘Mailbox Makeover’ on a best-in-class site.”
The DMAchoice portal’s new features and functions, Greco said, are “the result of a comprehensive effort to give consumers an opportunity to manage their own preferences, and to make the marketing communications that they do receive more relevant to their own individual interests and needs.”
“Instead of one single ‘global’ opt-out, we’ve made the level of choices more granular, offering separate categories for consumers to consider such as catalogs, magazines, pre-approved credit offers, and other types of advertising mail,” he said. “Then the new site educates consumers about the implications of the choices they can make within each category, allowing them to make informed decisions about their preference choices.”
In addition to mail and email preferences, Greco pointed out that DMAchoice, moving forward, will evolve to address consumer options and choices across multiple marketing channels, making the job of managing their preferences more appealing to consumers, and easier to do.
The Importance of Participation
Greco urged attendees to participate in DMA’s advocacy work. “I ask everyone to find a way to join a community effort. You can help us to advocate our position, polish our reputation, and ensure our ability to continue to self-regulate. DMA plays a vital role, and the Board and the staff cannot do it alone. We’re only as strong as the number of community members who get involved and make a difference.”
Greco concluded by asking one more time, “r u Connected?” “I hope the answer is a resounding ‘yes,’” he said. “If it is, you’re a part of something big.”
For the full text of Mr. Greco’s speech, click here.
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