At a time when the largest US direct marketing association is facing fiscal challenges and member scrutiny, Direct Marketing Association board member and Executive Committee member Gerry Pike has launched a Web site questioning the group’s governance. ABetterDMA.org alleges that “DMA’s relevancy is fading, its membership falling and its events failing as budget-buster dues and conference fees are sending long-time DMA members heading for the exits.” Pike has also mailed DMA voting members asking for their support.
In a response to a request for comment, DMA spokeswoman Sue Geramian said in an e-mail that “we are aware of the situation and will respond appropriately” to Pike’s message.
Pike told DMNews he has essentially been ousted from re-nomination for the board after his first three-year term. “I was informed at the end of August I would not be renominated and that management was insistent I stand down.” All other board members were re-nominated, Pike said.
He said at issue are questions he raised involving the association’s bylaws, which Pike said have been violated. “If you’re not operating within the bylaws you are not acting on behalf of members,” Pike said. “It’s because of that that I cannot stand down.”
The flap comes amid other industry talk questioning the DMA’s actions this year.
“The price structure is out of whack with the economy,” said Mark Amtower, a direct marketing consultant who specializes in marketing to the government, commenting on the increase in dues and echoing Pike’s comment. “The services are out of whack as well,” he told DMNews.
Another direct marketing source associated with the DMA said he expects there will be more staff cuts and more shuttering of conferences. “They will have to cut staff. They will have to cut more conferences.” This source also indicated the revenue for this year’s annual show, DMA09, is a fraction of expenditures.
Bernice Grossman, president of DMRS Group, agreed that the DMA cannot continue to produce the same level of events as it has in the past with its existing staff. “The DMA will have to select a focus,” she said.
Though staff cuts were a reality for most businesses this year, DMA had a significant reduction in staff and direct marketers said that is an issue in maintaining its services to members.
“Their biggest problem is their major cut in staff,” Grossman said. “When you cut your staff in half, you simply can’t support all the programs that you had been doing.”
DMNews reported last week that DMA is considering repositioning its entire organization around interactive marketing, including a name change. Discussions reflect increasing industry focus on digital marketing, and some industry sources said the pivot is critical to the group’s survival.