Greco Touts BTB's Importance to Overall Industry at Show

ORLANDO, FL — John A. Greco Jr. assured business-to-business marketers that the Direct Marketing Association will continue to fight for the industry via initiatives in postal reform, telemarketing and spam.

The president/CEO of the DMA delivered his remarks at the association's Direct Marketing to Business conference yesterday.

Greco also warned that the popularity of the Federal Trade Commission's do-not-call list affects the BTB industry because there are business telephone numbers on the list and because it has led some legislators to propose a similar do-not-e-mail list.

He said the industry wants to continue to self-regulate in all areas, but particularly with spam, so potential legislation will not hurt legitimate e-mail marketers' ability to market.

“E-mail is a powerful marketing campaign tool, with an overall response rate of more than 2.6 percent,” he said. “Unfortunately, spam is hurting ethical commercial e-mail.”

Greco also recognized the importance of the BTB industry, noting that the segment generated $1.08 trillion in sales in 2004 and that BTB marketers spent $114.7 billion on advertising last year out of the overall $216.9 spent by marketers.

In her keynote speech, Deborah Nelson, vice president of technology solutions, Group Marketing Strategy and Alliances at Hewlett-Packard, urged marketers to know their customers' needs and problems to market better to them.

“We can't just talk about the product,” she said. “We really need to understand customer wants and needs.”

Fifty-five percent of marketers lack a single view of their customers, Nelson said.

Within HP, the marketing team knows that if they can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty by 1 percent, it will directly affect the company's earnings.

“When you really get your teams listening to customers, it is very profound,” Nelson said.

To learn what the customer wants, HP requires marketing and other executives to listen to support and service calls, or drive with sales representatives, along with traditional focus groups and surveys.

“The best sales managers didn't just look at, 'How are we going to meet the quarter?' ” she said. “They looked at, 'What are the top customer issues and how do we address those?' “

Improving customer loyalty affects both BTB and business-to-consumer sales.

“We're in both consumer and business,” Nelson said. “It's all the same people. The same person shopping for a PC for their kids on Sunday is making IT decisions on Monday.”

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