Greco Lays Out Broad Agenda

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The Direct Marketing Association's fall conference is over. The buzz was that marketers were happy with traffic on the exhibit floor and how things went, though we don't know the attendance since the DMA refuses to release that information. The industry also got to meet John Greco. The DMA's new president/CEO had purposely isolated himself from the media so he could conduct a two-month "listening tour" with key members to hear what they had to say, familiarize himself with the issues, solidify his thoughts and make a big splash at the show.

So how big of a splash did he make?

Well, his keynote address sounded like those by two presidential candidates we're hearing quite a bit from these days -- touching on all the right areas but light on specifics. Yes, I know, Greco has been in charge of the DMA for only two months, so we should give him a chance to show us what he can accomplish. Attendees seemed to like what he had to say and said they are eager to see what he will get done. He certainly has a full plate as he talked about postal reform, privacy issues, online sales tax, spam, self-regulation and an updated strategic plan for the DMA.

The top concern he heard from members is the industry's image problem, and he said during his keynote address that he wants the DMA to help companies build a portfolio of success stories where consumers benefited from a direct or interactive marketing experience and to promote them to the rest of the world. I don't know how successful this campaign will be, but let's hope it does more than that privacy consumer-education one announced by his predecessor at the fall show four years ago. Remember the Privacy Leadership Initiative? I barely do. Even with 15 corporations and nine business associations involved, the group was disbanded less than two years after it was formed, and privacy remains one of the top concerns with consumers and regulators.

Also at the show, Greco held his first press conference and talked about a range of issues, including that the DMA board will evaluate all of the conferences and kill any unnecessary ones. The still-unscheduled conference certainly falls into that category. Greco also said he has no plans to reverse his predecessor's decision not to release attendance figures from any of the shows -- though he did say he has learned to "never say never" -- nor did he agree to have the shows audited by a third party.

It sounds like Greco has many challenges in the days ahead. Break-in time is over, there's work to do.


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