Update: DMA's New executive VP will help grow seminars, database

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Frank A. Rigano was named executive vice president of operations and administration for the Direct Marketing Association this week. His duties, which he assumes Monday, include improving service to its growing membership base and bringing the organization into a more businesslike operation.

Rigano spent 18 years at the American Management Association, New York, a training and development group with 70,000 members from large and small companies around the world.

"I was looking for somebody who had a combination of business marketing experience and experience delivering business services," said H. Robert Wientzen, president and CEO of the DMA, who began a search to fill the position six months ago. "The AMA has a very significant seminar operation -- bigger than ours -- and Frank understands how [to develop these programs] on a very businesslike basis."

The DMA's membership has increased to 4,500 member companies because of growing interest in direct marketing and last fall's acquisition of the Association of Interactive Marketing. Over the past two years, it also has added 30 to 40 seminars, increased its book and research business as well as Internet-based programs.

Rigano's most recent position at the AMA was senior vice president of business services, where he introduced many new seminars and was responsible for revenue from the sale of most of its professional products. Eighty percent of the association's $300 million revenue comes from its seminar operations, both domestic and international.

Rigano also pioneered the AMA's development of business-to-business database marketing and initiated data mining tools, including predictive modeling and value-added file overlays. This experience will be important, Wientzen said, because the DMA began putting together a new database system last year which eventually will combine all of its current database systems. Many mailers have complained about the current systems, saying they're outdated and unorganized and generate old or incorrect direct mailing lists.

While neither Wientzen nor Rigano would be specific about the DMA's database plans, they said the program in place now will continue, which includes combining data and placing it in a client-server database system.

"The DMA is certainly interested in having a single database and working from that database," Rigano said.

DMA members expect Rigano to improve DMA operations considerably.

"We are growing and becoming a fairly big and complex [association]," said member Robert Kestnbaum, president of Kestnbaum & Co., Chicago, a division of KnowledgeBase Marketing Inc. "Wientzen has done a smashing job of creating new initiatives and moving us down a number of paths that we need to be moving down, but there is just more than one person can handle."

Kestnbaum said the new position should serve the organization's database projects well.

"I headed a task force several years ago that proposed many things the DMA could do using its data to serve members better," he said. "We simply did not have the database nor the skills internally to do those things. If Frank has some good skills in that area, then that's going to be very, very helpful."

In the DMA's new organizational structure, Wientzen will continue to oversee the government and conference divisions, while Rigano initially will have three people report to him, including director of the information technology division, a vice president in charge of operations and training and development, and the person in charge of research.

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