DMA Offers Guidance on Honoring Suppression Lists as Part of Consumer Choice Initiatives
December 20, 2007 — The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) on December 17 convened a Catalog Summit for members to discuss current developments in the mail channel and to plan an appropriate, strategic response. DMA members participated in the summit over the telephone or in person at DMA’s New York City headquarters.
Opening the summit, DMA President & CEO John A. Greco, Jr. pointed out that the mail channel is under assault, noting that the number of states that have proposed Do Not Mail (DNM) registries have grown from three states in 2005 to 15 states this year.
Greco described the fundamental reasons why the Do Not Mail concept is bad public policy, adding that consumers already have a variety of choices, ranging from contacting an individual company to registering with DMA’s Mail Preference Service (MPS). “Even so,” he told summit participants, “activist groups are out there collecting names for petitions and beating the drum in local press.”
Greco went on to describe major DMA initiatives to show consumers that marketers “get it” — not only do marketers want to provide consumers relevant information and offers, but they want to honor consumers’ choices.
Greco cited 15 key business practices in paper procurement and use, design, list hygiene, printing and packaging, and recycling and pollution reduction — DMA’s “Green 15” — introduced this year in addition to a “Recycle Please” initiative to build awareness of mixed paper recycling.
Describing the recently introduced DMA Commitment to Consumer Choice, Greco linked the increased control consumers now have over what they receive in the mail to strengthening MPS and showing consumers, lawmakers, and regulators that the direct marketing community is capable of effective self-regulation.
Addressing a recent trend of outside activist groups approaching catalogers to suppress names on lists they want to provide, Greco pointed out that as the official Mail Preference Service of DMA and the catalog industry for 36 years, MPS offers consumers an easy and efficient way to control the amount of mail they receive.
Greco announced enhancements to MPS, including the capability of accepting individual, opt-out requests — online — at the company- or organization-level, as well as for specific brands and catalog titles. MPS is part of DMAChoice, the overall umbrella of all DMA preference services for consumer communication management.
In addition, Greco said, MPS now accepts opt-in requests for specific brands, companies, and organizations, with further improvements planned to roll out in the coming months. These, he said, will include removing the $1 verification charge that currently is used for security as soon as DMA has successfully tested and deployed technical alternatives now under evaluation.
In addition, Greco counseled each DMA member to ask four questions of anyone or any group that proposes to provide names for suppression, recommending that if a satisfactory answer cannot be given to each, members should not accept the list.
- What assurances are in place that the names were actually collected directly from each person?
- Is each name and address really authentic? Is there a robust, national level verification system in place to ensure the integrity of the data?
- Do they promise consumers who sign up with them that their names and addresses will never be sold, traded, or used for any other marketing purposes?
- Does any collector of consumer opt-outs have any plans to engage or otherwise continue to contact people who sign up with them — for any purpose?
“I believe before you say to consumers that any other service is good enough to get them off your list,” Greco said, “you owe it to yourselves and the entire direct marketing community to try to use the service we have, the one the US Postal Service has given its support. Together, we need to be sure we make MPS the most effective option for consumers to choose.”
Greco stressed the importance of the entire direct marketing community approaching the challenges together, and using the strength of unity to improve connections with consumers and prevent governmental imposed regulation.
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