Live from DMA06: DMA President & CEO John A. Greco, Jr. Focuses on 'The Power of Direct'; Presents New Economic Impact Findings, Policy Updates
October 16, 2006 — Direct Marketing Association (DMA) President & CEO John A. Greco, Jr. kicked off DMA06 this morning with a speech that focused on “The Power of Direct,” a brand that is built on “relevance, responsibility, and results.” “Those three words stand for everything we’re about,” he told DMA06 conferees at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center. “The ‘Three R’s’ represent a delicate balance that will keep our entire direct marketing community viable in a rapidly changing world.”
At a time when the marketing world is undergoing rapid change, Greco said DMA’s goal is “to make sure that marketers have the best mix of all the marketing channels available to them, and that they get the best return on investment when they use direct marketing in any channel.” DMA’s mission, he said, “is to create the most attractive market space for all the buyers and all the sellers who make up the entire direct marketing process.”
To do that, he said DMA had a strategy focused on cultivating the zone where the interests of three important communities come together: businesses and nonprofit groups using direct marketing, along with the professionals who help them do it; policymakers; and customers, donors, and prospects. “This intersection,” he said, “sets the strategic agenda for all that we do at DMA, including advocacy and protecting the brand image of direct marketing.”
DMA Launches Search Certification Program
Because of the growing importance of search in marketing, Greco announced the launch of a new program developed by leading marketing experts in cooperation with the DMA Search Engine Marketing Council, and supported by all four of the largest search engines.
“DMA Search Certification is a rigorous two-level training and examination program enabling applicants to become certified search engine marketers through either in-person or online training,” he said. “This program is designed to give people the knowledge they need to lead search marketing programs for agencies or in-house marketing teams.”
2006 Economic Impact Findings
Noting the significant economic impact of direct marketing in the United States, Greco presented the latest findings from DMA’s ongoing study that measures advertising expenditures, sales, returns on investment, and employment.
Citing the study’s latest findings, Greco said direct marketing-driven sales in 2006 will make up a full 10.3 percent of US gross domestic product. “Also, 7.5 percent of all the US employment is now direct marketing-driven. That’s over ten and a half million jobs.”
As for ad spending, Greco said that businesses and nonprofits this year are forecasted to spend $166.5 billion on direct marketing, up 6 percent over last year. As a result, he said direct marketing-driven sales will reach $1.939 trillion dollars this year, a 7.4 percent increase over 2005.
Protecting Access to Marketing Data
Public policy issues, Greco told DMA06 delegates, could potentially bring direct marketing’s increasing presence in the marketing world to a standstill and ultimately cut off consumer choice.
One of the most fundamental issues confronting direct marketers, he said, relates to their continued access to marketing data.
“We all agree that consumers must be protected from identity theft and fraud,” he said, adding that the security-breach stories that have been in the press have made people feel vulnerable. “Even though there is no evidence of an increase in identity theft or financial crime resulting from all the data losses we read about, the perception of a problem is skyrocketing.”
As a result, Greco pointed out that 189 new data security bills were proposed in state capitals this session. “We already have 36 states with differing data security laws on the books, with different triggers for notifications and widely varying requirements.” Moreover, he noted that, at the federal level, “several bills introduced in Congress this term – had they been enacted – could have seriously damaged our ability to market directly.”
Greco told delegates that the Association supports a federal law with clear, consistent standards that would allow everyone – including marketers – to do the right thing. “By ‘doing the right thing,’” he said, “I mean protecting information that can be used to steal people’s identity – for example, credit card, drivers license, or Social Security numbers. ‘Doing the right thing’ also means letting people know when there’s a significant risk that kind of information has been compromised.”
But not all data falls into that category, the DMA CEO added. “There’s a difference between data that can be used to steal my identity and marketing data about my shopping preferences. We point out the difference between the two constantly – because we must retain access to marketing data in order to be relevant.”
Working Toward Postal Reform
Passing meaningful postal reform legislation is a DMA policy priority, Greco said. “After years of work, we came extremely close to passing meaningful postal reform” before Congress left on September 29 for its election break. “In a very challenging political climate,” he said, “we are literally inches away from getting this done.”
“This proposed postal reform legislation is very complex, filled with arcane terminology and economic principles,” he said. “So, we have to let Congress know just how important postal reform is in terms they relate to – jobs, growth, and the bottom line.”
“We need your help in keeping the pressure on,” Greco told delegates. “And we can help coordinate your efforts with everything we’re doing to get postal reform done. Successful postal reform will go a long way to stabilize the kind of erratic rate activity we’ve seen recently.”
While postal reform has been an issue for more than a decade, a more recent mail-related issue concerns the creation of government-run do-not-mail registries. “We have seen legislation proposed in states, including New York and Massachusetts,” he said. “Fortunately, we – along with our coalition partners – have succeeded so far in making sure all of them were defeated. But they’ll be back.”
“When you look at the big picture, by and large, direct marketers are doing an excellent job of guarding privacy and environmental stewardship,” he said. “We have the facts to back that up. And we’ll continue to raise the bar.”
Focus on Consumers, Relevance, and Responsibility
Moving forward, Greco told DMA06 delegates, “we need to educate consumers, to lessen their frustration, because if we don’t, activists could use it as a way to drive public policy that might curtail the flow of mail dramatically.” “Our strategy,” he explained, “is to listen carefully to what consumers tell us and to pay close attention to their rights and preferences in all business practices.”
“Our goal is to build a bridge of trust with consumers,” he said. “Research tells us clearly what we need to do to earn their confidence. Research also tells us again and again that consumers respond favorably when you offer them communications that are relevant to their specific needs and interests. They appreciate responsible treatment from marketers who have the offers they value and the service they like.”
The Power of DMA Membership
“We should be very proud of our Association,” Greco told conferees, who are gathered in San Francisco from around the globe. “We have re-invented DMA to be all about helping marketers make the leap to ‘marketing directly.’”
“But understand that while we’re doing a lot, we could be doing a whole lot more with your help,” he said. “First of all, membership. If you are a DMA member, thank you. As I have just shown you, your support for the greater direct marketing community is critically important.”
“If you are not a member of DMA, or our Nonprofit Federation,” he continued, “I have to ask: ‘Why not?’ Your presence here suggests you agree your future is subject to the same trends, issues, and outlooks I’ve just described. But you are passing up so much value that comes with being a DMA member.”
“As I said, the rest of the world is moving rapidly in our direction,” Greco said. “All marketing is going direct. It’s incredible to me that any marketer would not want to take advantage of the benefits of being a DMA member. So I want to challenge every DMA member to help us recruit one new DMA member as soon as possible.”
While in the challenge mode, Greco said he also wanted to challenge “every marketer to join in a unique effort we have just launched as a way to help build consumer trust. We have started the effort with materials supporting the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer education campaign on fighting identity theft. We’ve just begun this effort, and the templates can be downloaded from our Web site. Several leading marketers have already signed up. By next year I’d like to see participation increase dramatically.”
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