Consumers Have More Control

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Now that Bob Wientzen has announced his retirement as president/CEO of the Direct Marketing Association, he seems to be taking a stronger stance on some issues. At last week's sparsely attended conference, he chastised marketers for favoring the bottom line over doing the right thing. The marketing climate has changed tremendously in recent years and a lot of pain could have been avoided if companies had paid more attention to consumers' complaints. "I bet there's not a person in this room who wouldn't agree that today's consumer is - thanks largely to the Internet - more informed and, consequently, more in control," he said. "We all say that, and yet I don't really think enough marketers act like they believe it."

Wientzen also said companies have "failed to act as an industry speaking with a united, consumer-friendly voice," though I would assert that the DMA hasn't always offered the necessary support in that regard either. It's too bad more people weren't there to hear his comments, but that's because the show's a dud, and has been for four years now. In that regard, Wientzen's successor would be wise to fold the show into DM Days New York or the catalog show, preferably the latter, and hold it earlier in the year - a return to the spring show, perhaps? This would stop the two larger shows from overlapping, and it would allow catalogers to leave their conference with ideas and information that they still could use for the holiday season.

Other Internet-related shows have bounced back, as seen at @d:tech's show in New York a few months ago, but not This year, there were only 26 exhibitors and 200-250 people there, though that's my guesstimate since the DMA refuses to release attendance figures. DM News has urged the DMA and others in the conference business to have their shows audited by a third party. However, doesn't need an audit, it needs a tombstone.

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