DM needs 'positive, coordinated responses': Greco

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BOSTON - The theme of interconnectedness runs through so many areas of our industry, from how pervasive multichannel direct marketing is today, to the need for direct marketers to work together to influence legislation in Washington, to the different meanings "environment" has for different people.

That was the subject of a speech by John A. Greco Jr., president/CEO of the Direct Marketing Association, Tuesday here at the Annual Conference for Catalog and Multichannel Merchants.

"The multichannel direct marketing process is becoming pervasive across all industries and segments - BTB and BTC, for-profit and non-profit," Mr. Greco said.

What's driving it all is the evolution of new customer-focused actions and processes that are replacing the separate marketing silos of old. Mr. Greco calls this "marketing directly" as opposed to "direct marketing."

Businesses continue to mix and match multiple communications channels, looking for the ultimate mix of channels and media. The good news is that the return on advertising investment is much higher for direct marketing than with non-direct mass-communications channels, Mr. Greco said.

Plus, the return on investment is growing. Every dollar spent on direct marketing this year will return an average of $11.79 in sales.

However, keeping ROI up means controlling costs, including postal.

"I cannot bring up mailing costs in this room without addressing the subject I know is on everyone's mind: last week's rate hikes," Mr. Greco said.

He recounted the DMA's efforts to work with the Postal Regulatory Commission to lower May's postal rate case before the amount of increase was announced as well as once the PRC-recommended increase of 20 percent to 40 percent for catalogers came out.

He reiterated his issues with the actions of the Coalition of Catalog Mailers to address the rate case. (See DM News' coverage of this entire process.)

"If our original strategy had not been undermined it is very likely that the PRC would have also reconsidered its decision for Standard Mail flats in time," Mr. Greco said, alluding to the fact that the PRC did reconsider two other rates that had been returned under protest in advance of last week's increase.

"But instead one splinter group, acting alone, without any discussion or consideration of other mailer associations, including DMA, precluded victory for all of us," he said.

The lesson to be learned from is that we live in an increasingly interdependent environment, Mr. Greco said, moving on to speak about the environment.

This month the DMA Board approved a resolution that calls on members to establish internal measurements this year to benchmark their future progress in 15 key areas covering list hygiene and data management, mail design and production, packaging, recycling and pollution reduction, and paper procurement and use.

To help, the DMA has built an online tool to assist in evaluating environmental goals.

The DMA has also launched a new consumer education initiative building around a "Recycle Please" logo.

"Recycling rates for catalogs, mail, magazine and other 'mixed paper' continue to lag behind rates for newspaper and cardboard," Mr. Greco said. "We want to help bring those numbers up."

In response to the proposed do-not-mail bills in 15 states, the DMA has launched a coalition called Mail Moves America with the goal of letting key policymakers and other opinion leaders hear about the value and benefits of an advertising-supported mailstream.

"To consumers, a drop in postal revenue means higher prices, fewer delivery days and less convenient post office locations," Mr. Greco said.

"Only through mutual cooperation and teamwork will we be able to successfully present positive, coordinated responses" to the challenges that the direct marketing industry faces today, he concluded.

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