Letter: Northeast Ohio DM Club Likes Its Independent Status

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Our board of directors for the Northeast Ohio Direct Marketing Association read with great interest the article on the Direct Marketing Club of New York and its ongoing discussion among the board whether to become a chapter of the Direct Marketing Association ("DMCNY Doesn't Need Member Vote to Join DMA, Fortuna Says," March 24).

NODMA has been an independent club since 1986, and we have been approached on more than one occasion to become a DMA affiliate. The board has consistently declined this opportunity because it would increase dues by almost 100 percent and restrict the kinds of independent programs we could offer members and non-members.

Two years ago, our membership began to drop, and we knew that we had to get back to basics. We focused on improving our programming for both NODMA members and the DM community at large and growing membership via personal relationships.

We also knew that Cleveland/NE Ohio is not a huge DM center. We have a wealth of traditional marketers struggling with the transition to direct response initiatives. So our focus also became one of recruiting nontraditional DM professionals with programs and events they could relate to.

As a result of this effort, our membership has increased this fiscal year by 10 percent to 155 members, and our programming attendance has risen 40 percent. We are getting recognition from other communications groups in town, particularly the much larger Cleveland Advertising Association, about forming alliances for future events.

The DMA has been gracious enough to provide us with support when requested. Mike Faulkner, DMA vice president of segments and affiliates, visited our group in frigid January and gave a well-received presentation on industry trends.

We realize that our fellow independent clubs across the country may be wrestling with the same decision faced by DMCNY. We encourage all organizations to "get back to your roots" and find ways to build solid relationships within your communities.

Jim DiFrangia, Vice president/board officer, Northeast Ohio Direct Marketing Association



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