DMA Set to Release Strategic Plan Soon

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NEW YORK -- Direct Marketing Association president/CEO John A. Greco Jr. outlined a comprehensive agenda for his organization yesterday and teased the DMA's new strategic plan.


Greco previewed parts of what he expects will be in the plan to 120 marketers attending the Direct Marketing Club of New York's first luncheon of 2005. He discussed what marketers told the DMA they want from the organization during a survey last fall. They want four things: research, government representation, networking opportunities that will grow their business and education in direct and interactive marketing.


While his immediate plans included a trip to California to confer with the association's board of directors on the strategic plan, Greco also covered political issues facing the industry during his speech.


"If our access to, use of and ability to share data were constricted significantly, direct/interactive marketing would be in desperate trouble," he said, "which is why policymakers' focus on marketers' data practices is, or should be, so important to every member of our community."


Greco noted that the past two-year legislative cycle saw 50 privacy-related bills in Congress and more than 500 at the state level.


"We can expect more of the same in this two-year cycle," he said, though this year "it will be a whole new ballgame" on Capitol Hill because the House and Senate committees that have jurisdiction over privacy areas have new chairmen.


Greco said marketers can expect a "major comprehensive privacy bill" to move in the House committee. And he noted that Sen. Ted Stevens, R-AK, is the new chairman of the Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over privacy matters.


"While we've worked with Senator Stevens for a number of years on the postal front, we don't yet have a 'take' on what his position is on privacy and marketing data, though I suspect we will before long," he said.


The U.S. Postal Service did not escape discussion. He mentioned that House and Senate committees last spring passed postal reform bills, but the 108th Congress did not enact legislation. The 109th Congress is off and running with the issue, as Rep. John McHugh, R-NY, reintroduced his postal reform bill last week. Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME, who chairs the Government Affairs Committee, has indicated that she also will take up reform legislation this year, Greco said.


"In the end, we were fine with the delay because we weren't completely satisfied with last year's bills," he said. "This gives us more time to work with Congress to make the changes that we feel will better serve the mailing community and provide for the long-term viability of the postal service."


Regarding telemarketing, Greco urged caution.


"If you employ outbound telemarketing in your marketing mix, be extra careful," he said, "because even with the do-not-call systems in place, policymakers' eyes are very much still focused on this practice."


Greco said the DMA will have an economic impact report out by summer that will quantify the first full year of the registry's effect on outbound telemarketing sales. Also mentioned was that the effects of the registry could go beyond telemarketing.


"Some politicians and consumer groups are already eyeing the do-not-e-mail registry," he said.


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