Live from DMA Annual: Greco Speaks

New Orleans–At a press conference hours after making his inaugural DMA Annual keynote speech as president/CEO of the Direct Marketing Association, John Greco Jr. reiterated his primary points: that the DMA will continue its work on Capitol Hill, that the organization plans to reach out more to small businesses, and that the DMA needs to polish the direct marketing industry’s image among consumers and legislators.

Regarding political challenges, Greco noted during his Monday morning opening speech that the DMA’s “public-policy plate seems to be getting heavier all the time. And if we drop this plate, the bottom-line consequences could be pretty significant for direct and interactive marketers.” Although legislation regarding collection of remote sales taxes is highly unlikely this year, “next year we do expect the issue to reemerge on Capitol Hill,” he said.

Passage of a postal reform bill this year is equally unlikely. But “this does not mean the demise of postal reform–far from it,” Greco said. “Rather we expect that the new Congress next year will take up where the current Congress leaves off this year. And this is fine with us.” Both during his speech and at the afternoon press conference, Greco referred to the adage “Sometimes you have to slow down to speed up” regarding postal reform legislation. Because the DMA has some “significant concerns” regarding the Senate and House bills as they stand, “next year we can run with the existing bills and tune them up,” he told the reporters.

To better meet the needs of small businesses, Greco expects the DMA to launch a Small Business Council within the fiscal year. In fact, the association is working on a strategic plan for the next five years, which it expects to be able to present to its board of directors in January. “We’re going to look across everything we do and make sure we’re not spreading ourselves too thin, like peanut butter,” Greco said at the press conference. The strategic plan could conceivably lead to refined or reduced DMA offerings–the elimination of a conference that’s no longer deemed relevant, for instance, although Greco emphasized that currently no specific events or services are on the chopping block.

As for improving the public perception of direct marketing, “we have a great story to tell,” Greco said during his keynote. “Millions of consumers and businesses buy via direct channels every day, to the tune of $2.2 trillion this year.” He proposed compiling testimonials from satisfied customers and then deploying these for use in media interviews and in targeted mailings to legislators and targeting advertising. When asked during the press conference as to the status of this sort of image campaign, Greco laughed. The status, he said, is that “the words came out of my mouth this morning.” But he said that the association would be pursuing the initiative.

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