DMA Interim President & CEO Robert W. Allen Writes Open Letter to DMA Membership
February 5, 2010 — DMA Interim President & CEO Robert W. Allen has written an open letter to DMA Membership. The full text of the letter follows:
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OPEN LETTER TO DMA MEMBERSHIP
I would like to introduce myself to the membership of DMA. My name is Bob Allen and I am honored to have been appointed to the position of Interim President and CEO. I look forward to representing you, many of the best direct marketers in the world. In this letter, I would like to address the evolution of our world, the opportunities that lay ahead and why DMA should be the go-to place for companies large and small.
I proudly spent 25 years nurturing and growing one of the oldest mail order catalogs in the nation and guiding The Vermont Country Store along the path from traditional to digital media. As a small and rapidly growing catalog business in 1982, I naturally looked to larger direct marketers for advice. I was interested in avoiding the pitfalls that seemed to inevitably accompany rapid growth. In that era, companies and trade associations, with leadership from DMA, would bring catalogers together to share ideas, successes and failures. Everyone was growing and there seemed to be no shortage of customers or ideas. This was before the Internet and most of us were really in the mail order business, i.e., we mailed catalogs and customers mailed us orders and checks in return.
Fast forward to 2008 — the failure of the world economy changed the equation, I believe, forever. No longer can we simply put our offers in the mail and expect enough of a return to turn a profit and continue to grow. Virtually every marketer is a multichannel marketer today. The Internet and social media provide us with challenges, but more importantly, they provide us opportunities to present our goods and services to potential buyers the way that they want.
In many ways the digital era has leveled the playing field for companies of all sizes. For a number of years it seemed that only the large mailers would survive because of volume discounts and economies of scale. Now, many small companies can do everything their big brothers and sisters can do. Brand is king and you do not need to be large to have a well defined presence in the marketplace.
Herein lays the opportunity. As companies grow they often forget many of the lessons learned along the way. They forget that creativity and entrepreneurship were the driving forces when money was tight and profits were thin. Small companies still have much to learn. They also have something to teach. Large companies can tap into the energy, enthusiasm and ideas that are still launching direct marketing businesses every day. I have begun to call this idea "360 degree corporate mentoring."
Though I am not a candidate for the permanent position, I hope to reawaken this dormant concept in the next few months. I have already learned that DMA has a dedicated staff with in-depth knowledge across the entire direct marketing landscape. Some initiatives have already begun, others are ready to launch. The staff is eager to move them into high-gear.
The new initiatives are designed to restore the trust of all our members. We hope these efforts will rekindle our traditional base, particularly catalogers, and further increase interest, cooperation and trust among the direct marketing community as a whole. The staff and I are anxious to hear your thoughts and concerns, and we will remain flexible to meet all your evolving needs. We anticipate opening up new communication streams, giving us two-way dialogue with you while keeping you up-to-date on our progress. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
It is now more important than ever to be a member and help in the work designed to move the entire direct marketing community forward.
Robert W. Allen
Interim President & CEO
Direct Marketing Association
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