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Live from DMA09: Full Text of DMA President & CEO John Greco's Opening Remarks
Live from DMA09: Full Text of DMA President & CEO John Greco’s Opening Remarks
October 19, 2009 — The following is the complete text of Direct Marketing Association (DMA) President & CEO John Greco’s opening remarks at DMA09 Conference & Exhibition, which is being hold in San Diego through Thursday, October 22.
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DMA09 ANNUAL CONFERENCE
OPENING GENERAL SESSION — KEYNOTE
SAN DIEGO CONVENTION CENTER, SAN DIEGO, CA
MONDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2009
Part 1: Welcome to DMA09
Good morning. I am so happy to see all of you here in
I have really been looking forward to today… so I can tell you exactly why the decision you made to be here is such a good one.
If you are interested in getting ahead and staying ahead in this very challenging environment, you are in the right place at the right time.
We all know what kind of a year this has been.
Our quarterly DMA tracking study tells the story from the perspective of the direct marketing community.
Year-over-year, revenues have dropped at an unprecedented rate.
Even so, at mid-year, the majority of our survey said they were managing to remain profitable… and slightly less pessimistic about their revenue projections going forward.
So it’s a mixed picture at best.
DMA has faced the same difficult conditions as our members have this year… and I’m very proud of the way we have continued to serve the members while minimizing losses.
We surveyed our membership in January and set our priorities accordingly.
Now, we have positioned DMA for the future, whatever it may hold.
And whatever's next will certainly be very different from the past. We're never going back to business-as-usual.
So it's difficult to imagine anyone not being at least a little concerned about what's ahead… for your job, your business… your future.
In a world that’s cluttered with conflicting perceptions, partial facts and plain misinformation… you have to focus on doing what is right… and sticking with your convictions.
Times like these challenge us to try to control what we're able to control… and to minimize the risk of what we can't.
I say this is the time to focus on the fundamentals… and to add new skills and capabilities into your mix of professional qualifications.
That's why it is so important that you are here.
Because marketing is changing... the role of direct marketing within the overall art and science of marketing is changing.
What's more, the mix of interactive channels we use for direct marketing is changing dramatically as well.
This recession has hit practically every line of every marketing budget in existence… and as a result these massive changes have speeded up.
What has not changed… despite all the ups and downs, is that business and nonprofits will continue to need effective ways to reach and retain customers, donors and prospects.
In fact, they need that now more than ever.
That's why I see this as direct marketing's opportunity to shine.
I think there are great opportunities… in every channel and every market… and that we, as the direct marketing community, can really help get the economy back on track… and keep it growing.
Part 2: What Is Direct Marketing?
Let me just take a moment to talk about what I mean when I say all marketing is changing.
Because while we still call it direct marketing… the direct marketing process has morphed into something very different, in a very short period of time.
The continuing evolution of digital communications is altering the marketing landscape every single day… testing our abilities as marketers to understand what's happening and to change along with it.
Marketing must continuously explore new ground while simultaneously continuing to maximize what's worked effectively so far.
That's a big reason for what we see at a macro level… the transition from scattershot brand marketing to measurable, accountable direct marketing campaigns.
Within direct marketing, strategies are accelerating the shift from traditional direct mail and teleservices channels into digital – email, search, mobile and social networking.
At the same time, direct mail marketing still has a very strong return on marketing investment, either acquisition or retention.
In all the channels, from online to offline, we have increasingly abundant marketing data and analytics capabilities – which provide the common engine of the entire direct marketing process.
We have the tools we need to make every marketing offer personally meaningful to individual recipients.
We are able to deliver them in the right channel, at the right time, matching up to individual preferences.
We can make every touch point relevant and timely.
More and more, we have the ability to tailor the message… the medium… and the means of delivery… all on a minute-by-minute basis, 24/7.
This is opening up a completely new chapter in the book of direct marketing… and constantly changing the way we need to think about what we do.
Whether it was marketing by mail… or over the telephone… or over the Internet… direct marketing has always been interactive.
When you add the wide range of channels and media options now available for direct response dialogue with customers… not only over the Internet… but also over mobile networks… digital TV networks… and, of course, with social networks.
Wrap it all up with the lightning speed of instantaneous digital connections… and direct marketing is dramatically transformed.
What makes it all work? Without a doubt, it’s the data… and the analytics.
Data and analytics, sampling and testing. This is the brains behind all the channels… and it’s in the DNA of DMA. Others don’t have it.
I’m pretty sure that everyone here recognizes what I’m talking about. That’s why you’re here.
You can see where the growth is coming from in this rapidly changing world… and you want to be a part of it.
I think we can all agree – that’s what we all want.
Direct marketing… the interactive, data-driven, online, offline, inbound, outbound, lead-generating, customer-retaining direct marketing process… is what we all share in some way… as a valuable key to unlocking growth in today’s world.
For over 90 years, members have come together to form a group that has continuously evolved… and lately, morphed… into today’s Direct Marketing Association.
Successful direct marketing professionals have long recognized the tremendous value of standing together as a united community – as a way to gain strength.
DMA taps into that strength to take on important work… jobs too large for any single organization to handle on their own.
Today, those tasks are bigger than ever.
One of the most important is to keep direct marketing well-positioned with lawmakers, regulators, and all the key players in the public policy arena.
We absolutely need access to any deliberations that might result in closing off a valuable marketing channel, or make it economically untenable to use.
Another major goal that only a united direct marketing community… and an effective DMA… can address… is the need for the goodwill of consumers in all direct marketing transactions and interactions.
The public reputation associated with direct marketing methods is beyond anyone's individual ability to control or even make a significant breakthrough.
To retain the confidence of consumers… and public policy makers who watch and listen to consumer concerns… requires consistency and vigilance across the community.
That's why self-regulation of direct marketing – again to the full extent possible – is the best way we have to be sure we'll be allowed to fully develop and execute multichannel marketing campaigns that no one's even thought of yet.
Having a strong Association like DMA… and the ability to involve a large group of volunteers to help coordinate… with consistency and vigilance… is the reason self-regulation has worked so well for direct marketing… and we’ll continue to do that. (pause)
With all that's changing in marketing, everyone needs to think about education and professional development – today more than ever it's a continuous process.
And while you have many options, direct marketing education taught by marketing experts… professional development incorporating the latest ideas and techniques, across multiple channels and markets… that’s all part of the value of DMA.
Especially for DMA members who enjoy significant discounts on our information products and educational services.
A healthy, growing direct marketing process requires a variety of opportunities to make markets… by allowing users of marketing strategies – both businesses and nonprofit organizations – to connect with people who have the right solutions to their marketing challenges.
Right now, you're in the best possible place for that… this is the global event for integrated marketing.
Throughout the year DMA also provides these opportunities for broad segments of the direct marketing community, such as email marketers, database marketers, multichannel merchants and the Nonprofit Federation, the Internet Alliance, and others.
These are all things that a strong and healthy Association can do for a community such as ours.
These are all things that DMA volunteers and staff alike think about and work on every day… on behalf of everyone who wants to do business, grow new markets and satisfy customers by using direct marketing.
As an Association, we're dedicated to putting the most important needs of over three thousand members first.
I don’t know any better way to make sure a place inside DMA’s “big tent” remains valuable for all the segments and sectors of the huge direct marketing community.
But you might well ask: what have we done lately?
Part 3: What Has DMA Done For You Lately?
As I said before, I am very proud of the way DMA has handled a difficult year.
We have been called upon to make some tough decisions… but they were the right ones and the interests of DMA members were our highest priority.
In spite of it all, we have still managed to accomplish a great deal on behalf of our members… and I want to tell you about as much as time will allow.
Let me start with the political representation and issues advocacy that DMA provides on a broad range of matters that impact the entire marketing community.
The public policy arena has changed significantly this year, and challenges for marketers have not abated in any respect.
The advocacy job is not a small one, nor is it easy.
Whether it's restrictions on advertising… concerns about privacy… onerous data security requirements… or even closing down a vital marketing channel… the stakes for marketing are higher than ever.
This is certainly no time to get distracted, or take our eye off the ball.
One specific issue… consumer notice and choice in online behavioral advertising… has really come to the forefront this year.
There's a growing amount of public commentary and concern.
In February, the Federal Trade Commission sent out notice to a very broad cross-section of the marketing world… advertisers… publishers… Internet advertising networks… Internet service providers… a huge eco-system…
The FTC said, "Create a credible and vigorous self-regulatory framework for online behavioral advertising."
If you don't, they said… you will face increased regulation and possibly federal law.
In Congress the House Energy and Commerce Committee held hearings. Several committee members called for legislation.
If it comes to that… all DMA members would oppose any heavy-handed law that might hamstring Internet advertising.
We advocate the idea that increasing the relevance of advertising benefits both the advertiser and the consumer.
That's something we in direct marketing know a lot about… one of the main reasons we produce the kind of results we do.
Direct marketers have worked very hard over the years to take responsibility for all business practices… so it was natural for DMA to proactively step up and take the lead on this major challenge.
Over a year ago, DMA got out ahead of this emerging issue by proposing and constructing a coalition to ensure this important source of marketing growth is preserved… an unprecedented collaboration that would be able to develop and deploy the comprehensive self-regulatory principles the government is asking for.
By mid-year we were ready to release those privacy principles which cover the use and collection of behavioral data in online advertising.
Yesterday, the DMA board approved language incorporating the principles into our Guidelines for Ethical Business Practices… updating the DMA document that is the basis for years of successful self-regulation.
Case closed? Not exactly… but good news for direct marketing… and I'll come back to that in a few minutes.
Let me touch on two other public policy issues where DMA resources are directed, mail and taxes.
The intent of postal reform was to cap rate increases by the consumer price index… keeping them gradual and making them very predictable.
The reality of implementing postal reform had a negative impact on sub-classes that made it especially difficult for the catalogers to control their costs, forcing a drop in volume.
On top of that, the extraordinary effects of the recession have caused the United States Postal Service to incur major losses.
DMA helped USPS get some relief in Congress that we believe, with additional cost-cutting, will allow them to avoid any emergency increases for the time being.
I’m delighted to tell you that was confirmed just last week.
After a lot of discussions with DMA… we convinced Postmaster General Potter to announce that there will be no increase in calendar 2010.
That’s a victory for our advocacy efforts, and for DMA members.
Also this year, USPS for the first time, took a token step toward pricing flexibility as DMA has recommended so strongly.
The postal "summer sale" was a step in the right direction, and a lot more is required.
With our consistent advocacy, we will keep the pressure on the post office to offer truly flexible pricing… along with service enhancements.
Beyond the difficulties at the post office, state legislatures continue to propose do not mail registries as they have every year recently.
This year, environmentalists and privacy watchdogs… many of them somewhat misinformed… managed to have six do not mail bills introduced in four states.
As always, the misinformed have the potential to do the most harm.
Thanks to DMA preparedness… and the efforts of the Mail Moves America coalition that we established… none of the bills passed.
A few hours north of here in
Fortunately, DMA has been able to successfully coalesce a strong advocacy position that unites other associations and companies. Together we'll continue to fight do not mail proposals wherever they crop up.
Now on to taxes… which is a major issue for all marketers… and especially so for e-commerce players in the direct marketing process.
This year facing major budget deficits, 8 states introduced bills to challenge the Supreme Court ruling that prevents the states from forcing tax collection on remote sales if the seller has no presence in the state.
We expect both states will lose revenues due to loss of sales from online affiliate networks… and we’ll continue to fight to have the laws reversed.
Gov. Schwarzenegger even called on Overstock.com to resume their business here in the
Whether it is tax, or privacy, or data security, every position we advocate as DMA is strengthened considerably by our successful track record with self-regulation.
We base our advocacy on the principle that since self-regulation is fluid and flexible… it’s preferable in most cases to laws, which are narrow and absolute.
So DMA does a lot to protect and manage the reputation of the direct marketing community, which is the essential key to maintaining our self-regulatory system.
DMA advocacy is made credible by the positive reputation that DMA and the direct marketing community have earned through years of successful self-regulation.
We have a strong track record of knowing how to do it.
This year, for example, we upgraded our consumer web portal DMAchoice.org to establish a foundation for managing multichannel consumer marketing preferences.
New features and functions allow consumers to manage their own mail preferences – by category or by brand.
Separate categories for consumers to consider are catalogs, magazines, pre-approved credit offers, and other types of advertising mail.
For direct marketers, choice by category means more names open to marketing.
It also means that fewer names need to be suppressed than before, when mail preference was an all-or-nothing option.
From now on, catalog and multichannel merchants, magazine publishers and other marketers will each only need to suppress less than half of the new names on our DMA Mail Preference Service opt-out list, leaving over half the names on the list available. (Pause)
We’ve also raised the bar for environmental and social responsibility in a number of ways.
We’re pursuing the first major goal of DMA’s Green 15 practices for minimizing the ecological impact of direct marketing.
More than 100 member companies now use our “Recycle Please” campaign.
Members stay ahead of the responsibility curve through our virtual briefing series on compliance issues, and a monthly e-bulletin.
DMA also introduced a new digital publication this year, offering a wide vista of perspectives and practices from marketing innovators and thought leaders. It’s called Point.
Each edition focuses on a single timely topic, and the latest, just out this week, is on social media in marketing – I recommend you check it out.
Education / Professional Development
Comprehensive direct marketing education has always been a hallmark of DMA.
This year we have worked with thought leaders from across the community to ensure that our educational content is up to date and valuable, not only to enhance the careers of the students but to advantage their employers as well.
We've taken major steps to make more education available online… through informative virtual seminars…and self-paced e-learning modules.
We also continue to offer face-to-face training through public seminars and customized programs for in-house delivery.
Most recently we announced DMA certification for marketing professionals, based on a broad curriculum covering every part of the process.
The DMA Certified Marketing Professional program is an innovative and flexible initiative that we expect will set global standards for direct marketing education for the first time ever.
Courses leading to certification are available both online and in-person.
In fact, selected sessions right here at DMA09 count for initial credits toward certification.
We'll have similar options at other DMA conferences during the year.
Anyone can sign up for the program, but if you work for a DMA member company you'll receive additional benefits throughout the program, starting of course with special member pricing.
Market Intelligence / Research
This year we improved our flagship research report, The Power of Direct Marketing: ROI, Sales, Expenditures and Employment in the
The new edition is being released today. For the first time we’re breaking out online channels with more specificity.
We now track separate benchmarks for Internet search and display, as well as for mobile marketing and social networking in addition to commercial email and the full array of offline channels.
Multichannel marketing is increasingly the focus of ECHO Award-winning direct marketing campaigns, and now we offer online access to the actual marketing case studies that won ECHO honors.
We've made full case histories with strategy details, actual examples of creative executions, and documentation of results available to subscribers, and we expect this to be tremendously valuable to market researchers, creative people, and marketing strategists of all kinds.
Market-Making / Networking
In the important area of making markets and creating opportunities for networking, DMA has taken major steps to re-focus our conferences and events.
Once again, we did so in a way that focuses on what’s most pertinent and valuable for today’s DMA members.
We have fewer events, but we combined and consolidated to make the events we do have more robust and relevant than ever before – DMA09 is a great example of that.
Like all trade shows in every industry this year, our size is down, but the content of the sessions and events is more comprehensive than ever… and the exhibitors have a wide spectrum of solutions to any multichannel marketing challenge.
As you move around the show floor you’ll see a direct reflection of our DMA community… one that cuts across all segments, all channels, and all markets… all sharing a constant underpinning of data and analytics.
While it’s always great to get people together face-to-face, in today’s world that isn’t enough… which is why we have also made it a priority to move DMA networking online.
This year we’ve developed a strong presence on Linked In, Twitter and Facebook… and more and more of our members are joining in the virtual conversation.
DMA special interest councils continue to offer great opportunities for individuals to get involved in DMA.
We added new councils this year for mobile marketing and social media and both are off to a great start.
Many of the larger segments now have a Strategic Advisory board or committee as a way for them to influence the overall DMA membership.
And our newest initiative is the launch of the DMA iDirect Leadership Committee this year.
Most everyone recognizes that digital, interactive, and direct marketing are increasingly the same… the question is how to describe the full vision, and how to get people working together who previously thought of themselves as being in different worlds.
The iDirect Leadership Committee is made up of top direct and digital marketing and advertising experts who help to guide DMA’s continuous evolution. (pause)
More and more, we are evolving into a global association… and this year DMA undertook several international initiatives to help DMA members… who want to enhance and extend the quality and availability of truly global direct marketing capabilities… to improve both US and non-US marketing campaigns.
This year we signed a memorandum of understanding with the Universal Postal Union to collaborate on direct marketing education with their members worldwide.
We've recently established partners and affiliates in Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East to supplement longstanding relationships with international groups in Europe,
In April, we launched the Arab DMA as a new affiliate, a tremendous win-win opportunity for global direct marketing.
So at home and abroad, we more than have our work cut out for us.
Part 4: What Can You Expect From DMA Moving Ahead?
Let me wrap this up by talking about what you can expect DMA to be doing in the year ahead.
I can summarize it quite easily in two parts.
First, we’ll continue to provide our members with powerful representation that no other group can match.
Second, we’ll continue to help our members become better, more effective marketers… by providing you with tools, resources and services that can’t be duplicated.
That’s what we think is the best approach to putting our members first.
Market-Making / Networking
Our lineup of conferences and events for the upcoming year is very strong.
We’ll be hosting the first European Email Evolution conference in just a few weeks… and the tremendously successful
I’m pleased to announce today that DMA will undertake a collaborative effort with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce… to highlight the importance of free enterprise in creating 20 million new jobs in the next decade.
We’re very proud to be working with the Chamber to bring business owners together and offer them the tools they need to strengthen and grow their bottom lines.
DMA will be providing U.S. Chamber members, especially small business, with a variety of educational opportunities through our seminars, conferences, online learning and marketing research.
DMA has a great opportunity to help business owners effectively use the direct marketing process effectively – a clear win-win for everyone.
Market Intelligence / Research
In the research area, we will continue to publish four major research reports that are most useful to all members, including our ongoing econometric study, The Power of Direct Marketing.
Our Quarterly Business Review will keep a finger on the pulse of the direct marketing community.
DMA will also expand collaboration with other groups to make sure the marketing community's most important questions get addressed with timely, accessible research studies and market intelligence.
Education / Professional Development
I told you earlier about our DMA Certified Marketing Professional initiative.
In the coming year we will leverage the critical work done last year on this truly international certification.
Today we are pleased to announce a global partnership with
This is a fully interactive, e-learning course. It’s based on the DMA Certified Marketing Professional program.
Associates at Japan Post will be the first to enroll in this professional development program.
Then, DMA will be partnering with Japan Post to roll it out to all Japanese marketers.
We will be pursuing similar arrangements with our newest affiliate, the Arab DMA… as well as in
Every well-trained marketer becomes a net plus in the overall reputation of all direct marketing.
Our reputation will be very important to successfully implementing the cross-industry principles for self-regulation for Online Behavioral Advertising I talked about earlier.
DMA and the Council of Better Business Bureaus, a leader in building marketplace trust, will work cooperatively to develop and promote accountability programs to encourage widespread adoption of the principles.
Also this year DMA will continue in our new role on the board of the National Advertising Review Council, the highly respected self-regulatory body dedicated to truth in advertising.
That means we now have a seat at the table for all advertising self-regulation… based on longstanding leadership in self-regulating direct marketing.
You can expect to see DMA develop our Commitment to Consumer Choice, working with members to make it part of everyday business.
And we’ll do anything else we can to protect the reputation of direct marketing, online and offline, among all consumers.
Advocacy / Public Policy
In the year ahead, we'll be keeping up the pressure on the post office to evolve the mail channel as a way to restore solvency.
The assurance of no postal rate increases in 2010 comes as good news and gives everybody a little breathing space to try to figure out what’s next.
DMA will be looking at all aspects of the future of mail, not just in the
A major part of this will be leveraging our growing involvement with the United Nations’ UPU I mentioned earlier.
To make sure all our channels remain open and viable, we'll work closely with regulatory bodies internationally… and with the PRC, the FTC and the FCC here at home.
Our new online system, the
This new issues forum matches grassroots voices with the people in Congress and state capitals who need to hear them.
DMA Action makes it easy for DMA members and others to take action and reach out to their elected representatives.
Influencing legislation is seldom easy. It is virtually impossible if members of Congress and other policymakers do not hear from their constituents.
DMA Action brings that much-needed addition to our advocacy capabilities and will make us even more effective.
I want to close by saying that I see a great future for direct marketing.
I see great opportunities for the community of people surrounding the direct marketing process.
I’m very proud of how my team has managed through this challenging year… and proud of all we have done for our members, in spite of many distractions.
The world is coming our way – everyone else needs what direct marketing’s got, which is marketing with data and analytics, sampling and testing.
That’s what direct marketing is all about… that’s what’s in the DNA of DMA.
All of DMA is ready to help you seize this opportunity to shine… and all of DMA09 is ready to get you started.
I look forward to serving each and every one of you as our future unfolds together. Thank you.
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