*FEDMA Opens Forum 2000 on Upbeat Note

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BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The Federation of European Direct Marketing has made the changes needed to bring the group back from the brink of financial disaster last year, said Time Warner executive and FEDMA chairman Istvan Hodac today at the opening session of the FEDMA Forum 2000 here.


The organization was streamlined over the past year and is now in a position to reach beyond Europe "and not only to the US," he said.


FEDMA hopes to become "the major information service for the DM industry in and outside of Europe," he said. "We can't stay in Europe but must reach outside to serve the new economy."


He cited the launch of a new Web site and a reorganization of its database to give members better access and better service. The group also simplified its member categories as part of that effort.


The association's aims were to "promote, protect and inform" the industry, specifically to protect member interests against incursion by the European Union through targeted lobbying and public affairs work with other international bodies in Europe and elsewhere.


Hodac said FEDMA is negotiating with the European Commission to develop codes for direct marketing, data protection, e-commerce, distance selling and sales promotion.


He expressed concern over the concept of coregulation that is gaining some adherence within the EC, preferring the idea of policy formulation with the EC on industry issues, adding, "We hope to have good relations with the EC."


Hodac touched briefly on the budget and said, "It is in line with what we expected." FEDMA reportedly lost $60,000 last year, and a "vision" group developed policy guidelines during the summer to put it back on track.


"We're right on target in meeting the goals the vision committee set for us in its two- to three-year plan," said FEDMA vice chairwoman Jenny Mosley. "Year one was the most difficult, and we think we will break even in 2000 and do better after that."


She declined to cite any budget numbers, however, saying they had not been finalized.


The event, being held under the motto of "sticky marketing," was kicked off this morning by US presenter Ray Jutkins, who has dropped "Rocket" from his professional name and eschewed some of his more flamboyant mannerisms.


He used to ride a Harley Davidson on stage during presentations and wear cowboy garb, often jumping up and down to make his points. At today's forum, he wore a conservative suit and tie and stuck to DM basics.


Newcomers to direct marketing often ignore these basics, Jutkins said.


"We're not taking the time to teach them the basics," he said, citing the adage, "Don't just learn the tricks of the trade, learn the trade."


He then launched into a fairly conventional presentation about the virtues of classic direct marketing and the continued pulling power of direct mail.


Indeed, other speakers stressed the new, sober reality that even dot-coms have to make money. Richard Rosen, president of Rosen/Brown Direct in Portland, OR, focused on advertising driven by return on investment.


"In marketing and advertising today, you need to speak the financial language" so CEOs and chief financial officers pay attention, Rosen said. "CFOs are really into knowing why you are going to spend this money today."


Ian Hughes, CEO of eCharity.com, focused on 10 tips for surviving as a digital direct marketer. He noted that 50 percent of all e-mails are never opened, and 16 percent of all ordered goods never arrive.


Colin Lloyd, president of the British Direct Marketing Association, wound up the morning session with a discussion of online trust and confidence and the role of trust marks in building consumer confidence in Web transactions.


He cited a Boston Consulting Group study showing that the primary concern of 76 percent of those surveyed was privacy in online transactions; that 41 percent refused to register; and that 70 percent decline to provide demographic information, while 27 percent falsify information.


Programs designed to protect consumer security and privacy, Lloyd said, are one way to assure consumers that they are not being taken for a ride. But he warned that a profusion of such programs would dilute the concept.


TrustUK, a program mark that the UK DMA helped to develop at the behest of the British government, has the potential to restore trust and expand across Europe and beyond.


Lloyd said he had already received expressions of interest from Korea, Malaysia and Singapore.
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