Politics Undermine Growth Projections for Outbound Telemarketing, Wientzen Says

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MIAMI -- New regulations cast doubt on projections of continued boom times for the outbound telemarketing industry, H. Robert Wientzen, president/CEO of the Direct Marketing Association, said yesterday.

In his keynote speech at the DMA Teleservices Conference 2003 here at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa, Wientzen said outbound telemarketing remains the top DM channel in terms of advertising spending and sales. Spending on telemarketing is projected to grow 6 percent annually over the next four years, while consumer telemarketing sales in that period are expected to grow nearly 8 percent annually, he said.

But those numbers are based on economic models, and the political reality telemarketers face is quite different, Wientzen said. The emergence of a national no-call registry could affect the industry's performance.

"Politically speaking, things are not looking too great for the outbound teleservices industry," he said. "Politics could and probably will have a major impact on our industry's future growth and your company's bottom line."

Spending on outbound telemarketing last year totaled $75 billion in the United States, a figure expected to rise to $80 billion this year, he said. By 2007, telemarketing spending could reach $99.7 billion.

Outbound telemarketing sales totaled $211 billion for business-to-consumer and business-to-business calls last year and are projected to grow to $225 billion this year, Wientzen said. National outbound sales are expected to pass $300 billion by 2007.

Those figures do not take into account new regulations, Wientzen said. He urged telemarketers to work together to ensure that the industry scrupulously adheres to telemarketing rules and warned that failure could mean more government restrictions in the future.

"I will be standing before you next year and telling you about a new set of FTC regulations and a new FCC effort," he said. "It will push on your bottom line."

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