Posts Tagged ‘DMA’
Posted by Jordan Ayan on October 17th, 2009
I have been a member of The Direct Marketing Association for many years. I feel I owe the association a lot, because I won a scholarship to the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation Collegiate Institute back in 1980. Attending that program introduced me to an area of marketing that only occupied ten pages of one textbook in my marketing education at College. It also landed me in my first job in the industry (I was recruited by a company at the session). I’ve attended DMA conferences for years as both a vendor and as a purchaser of direct marketing service.
My wife and I started our company eighteen years ago, and when we launched our email marketing product SubscriberMail, we had strong hopes that the DMA was going to be our industry advocate. I feel this is one area where we were wrong. At that time under the leadership of former DMA president Bob Wientzen, the association took the most ludicious, and damaging position about the definition of unsolicited email. His definition defied best practices, and made the industry look evil.
For years the rapidly growing digital segment of the industry was ignored. Back in 2004 at the Annual Conference in New Orleans I posted about how the DMA was making a big mistake by not getting involved with our end of the industry. When the DMA initially approached it they purchased the Association for Interactive Marketing (interestingly enough the association’s web site still is up). They all but decimated it in a couple of years. Recently they purchased the Email Experience Council. It is one of several email entities in the market, but it’s relevancy isn’t clear to me even though we spend thousands of dollars to be a sponsor. In the meantime, numerous organizations such as AdTech and OMMA have displaced the association as outlets for digital vendors.
On several occasions, over the years, I have contacted the association about industry advocacy, only to find a complete lack of understanding on the part of association executives. The best example of this is several years ago when multiple states were introducing ridiculous laws related to email under the veil of child protection. I was involved with the lobbying efforts of the ESPC and asked the DMA for support. They referred me to a Lobbyist who in a phone call talked to me about postal issues. I finally said this isn’t postal, it’s email, and she informed me that she did not think she could help.
As a company, each year we participate in the organization’s Annual Conference. Participating in a trade event is an expensive endeavor. The DMA it seems has gone out of its way to create multiple expensive events and has done little to join the digital components of the industry with the mainstream vendors. In fact, at the annual conference in Atlanta it was so bad that my friend Bill McCloskey of Email Data Source dubbed the area they relegated us to as “the digital ghetto.” Many attendees at the show were unaware that there even was a special area set aside for the digital vendors, and never visited. This despite the high exhibit fees charged by DMA.
In the years I’ve been a member, DMA has never reached out to me as a member until a week ago when I received a voice mail from an automated dialing system asking me for my proxy. DMA has never worried about proxies in the past. The association board could basically do anything they wanted and members didn’t really get involved in the internal politics of the organization – so why now?
A month or so I started receiving emails and reading about a movement DMA board member Gerry Pike was starting to bring change to the association. Gerry made some great points about the organizations relevancy to the membership, and raising the issue of the outrageous salary paid to DMA President John Greco that was never approved by the entire DMA board, but by a compensation committee that Greco himself sat on (far above averages for similar-sized associations). Pike also makes the point that the slate of Directors put forth at the meeting is not open to nominations from the floor. I’ve never heard of an organization where members don’t have the right to openly nominate and discuss the merits of Board candidates.
Pike’s point is simple – we can no longer just rubber stamp the association managment’s plan – members have the right to raise these issues at the board meeting. You can read extensive details about Gerry’s plans and approach on his webstie A Better DMA. I urge you to consider sending Gerry your proxy. You can click here for a copy and instructions for sending it in. My hope is that the DMA really starts to listen to its members. Many of us are tired of spending large amounts with the association and getting little in return. I also hope that the DMA does not use some parliamentary or political loophole to try to stifle Gerry’s efforts.
Posted by Jordan Ayan on February 12th, 2008
A couple of great data points out of today’s opening keynote at the EEC. If you need more ammo on the need to build a quality email list and create campaigns with a high level of relevancy here it is.
- 80 percent of consumers make a decision about deleting a message without opening it
- 79 percent hit the delete button when they don’t know the sender
- 64 percent never even look in their bulk folder
Posted by Jordan Ayan on October 18th, 2007
The DMA conference wrapped up this week, and it was a great week. First of all, for us at SubscriberMail, it was the unveiling of our new branding (logo, booth, etc). For us that is significant. However, I think more significant was a subtle shift in the DMA’s attitude towards the digital marketing community.
Those of you who have followed this blog over the years may have seen my posts here about how in past years the email marketing community has been treated as the ugly stepchild of the direct marketing industry. Well, this year, it seemed like we were finally accepted into the family. No more digital ghetto (like last year), no lack of an email category in the directory (like the previous). Digital was front and center. A major section in the main hall at the show.
It is great to see this organization moving in a digital direction. Let’s face it, direct mail is not dead, but it has been severely wounded by mounting postal rates an increased focus on “green marketing,” and consumer responsiveness. This is the industry I grew up in, so I don’t want to see it harmed, but I also realize that it is undergoing dramatic changes.
What remains to be seen is where the DMA weighs in on the legislative side. As a lobbying organization, their primary focus is still on postal rates. There are many major challenges facing the digital side of the industry from a legislative perspective. DMA has the ability to assume a leadership role. They also have the ability to mess it up royally (like they did when it came to defining opt-in). As a member, I’m hoping they move in the digital direction.
Posted by Jordan Ayan on July 9th, 2007
I just listened to the Email Experience Council (EEC) and DMA’s joint conference call announcing that the DMA has acquired the EEC. This is exciting news on one front, but also causes concern. Perhaps it is finally DMA’s recognition that email is really an important component of the marketing mix. Many DMA members have been using email for some time, but DMA’s reputation in the area of supporting the community and focusing on the critical issues to the industry has been disappointing.
The concern is that DMA is an organization that has traditionally focused on non-electronic communications. Their lobbying efforts are focused on postage rates and legislation related to the sending of catalogs and envelopes. The question is can they change this to address this new group, or is this going to be an acquisition that sours like the Association of Interactive Marketing (AIM) that was a disaster for the interactive community. Back then, the DMA just did not get it. With the DMA under new leadership, perhaps now they will.
So kudos to Jeanniey Mullen and her team at the EEC for building a great organization in a very short amount of time. Those of us in the community are looking for great things in the future.
Posted by Jordan Ayan on February 10th, 2006
Well three great things have happened this week for the email world. The first was AOL’s position change on their enhanced whitelist. Matt Blumberg at ReturnPath had a great post earlier in the week about this. Matt also did a great job on CNBC’s Power Lunch (you can see the video clip on his blog as well) explaining why the GoodMail/AOL plan to charge mailers for delivery was not good idea.
Today I learned that the Hawaii legislation mentioned in my earlier post was not brought out of committee, and is scheduled to be brought up again next week. This is due in part to reservations raised in testimony by the Hawaii Attorney General about the legislation (including references to CAN-SPAM and the potential legal hurdles). I spent time on the phone with several State Senators in Hawaii, and it was clear from our discussions that they realized they were not given all the facts. It is great to see a slow-down in this steamroller.
Finally, the court in Utah agreed to accept an amicus brief filed in the case their by several advertising organizations (including the Email Senders and Providers Coalition). The only down side to this is that one major organization was missing from the list. The DMA. I had great hopes after conversations with John Greco that the organization was changing, and posted about this last year. Well the DMA has burried their head in the sand and once again has turned its back on the electronic side of the direct response business.
In a speech to the New York Direct Mail Club Greco said “I’ve heard some people were puzzled or even disappointed that the DMA did not join the amicus brief filed a few weeks ago by … organizations to raise concerns over the Utah legislation,” he said. “We knew if we did participate, it would get spun as ‘DMA Attacks Efforts to Protect Children.’ You know that is what the headline would be.”
I guess regardless of the headline, those of us that pay dues to the DMA, would expect it would take the position that is best for its members.