Should the Direct Marketing Club of New York Become a DMA Chapter? NO

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This letter was sent to former presidents, current board members and others involved with the DMCNY last month.

To all my cohorts at the DMCNY - I've been reading, with a bit of sorrow, about the plight of the club as well as the inclination some of you have about throwing in the towel and hooking in with the DMA. After all these years, starting way back with the 100 Million Club, our club has had good times as well as bad.

And, yet, for the most part, it has flourished. It has been part of the New York scene for generations of direct marketers, and I hope and expect it will continue to be so for many more generations.

I personally don't know or understand how or why we got to this point. I do know that when I joined the club's board and later became its president back in the mid-'80s, we went through some lean years and also some very good years - and the thing that made the good years good was the dedication, commitment and ingenuity of the people serving the board. When we were short of funds, we put together fundraisers - we even had the audacity to ask each member to fork over an additional $25 or $50. We created campaigns, with all kinds of incentives, to generate new members (mostly through direct mail, which, by the way, works very well). We had lunches that made money, outings that made money, educational programs that made money.

I'm not familiar with most of the current people on the board (which is certainly my fault) but when I was on the board, everyone had a specific responsibility and was held accountable for administering that responsibility. If they didn't, or if they didn't show up for meetings, they would unceremoniously be dismissed. I'm sure most, if not all, of the current board members are well-intentioned, responsible people - and as such should be willing and able to generate a little bit of extra effort to fix what is broken, to come up with ideas and programs that make a club of our kind viable to the people in our industry.

Let's face it: the DMA is a profit-making organization - and you've got to know that they will find a way to make money from the New York club. They've got the people, the resources and the desire. We may not have the resources, but we certainly have the people to see this through. And now we need the desire. The fact is Chicago has a very viable club ... so does Washington and so does Boston. We have the biggest market of them all, and I see no reason why we shouldn't be able to keep our club above the water level.

It takes commitment ... it takes dedication. My advice, if you will allow me, is to find the ways and means to make our club a going concern again. If any of you would like to discuss this with me, I would be happily available. But please don't throw in the towel.

Ralph Stevens, Former president, DMCNY, Managing partner, MKTG Services

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