Live from DMA06: Greco Urges Marketers to Be Relevant, Responsible

(Direct) San Francisco–Direct marketers must send relevant messages, be responsible, and respect the wishes of customers, donors and prospects, or they will risk becoming irrelevant themselves, Direct Marketing Association president/CEO John Greco said during his welcoming keynote address on Monday.

“We may never run out of places to put advertising messages, but we are very near to the limits of human ability to absorb them all,” Greco said. “Something has to change. We have the ability to be the leaders of that change.”

In a wide-ranging speech to a packed house in San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center, Greco touched on the perennial subjects of public policy, privacy, data security, and postal reform, as well as what the DMA is doing to try to ensure that marketing data keep flowing freely and postal mail remains affordable.

“Our first priority is to reform the postal laws that haven’t changed in over 36 years,” he said. “Keeping the mail viable for marketing, charitable fundraising, and customer care will contribute significantly to our national economic well being.

“After years of work, we came extremely close to passing meaningful postal reform a few weeks ago, just before the election break,” Greco continued. “In a very challenging political climate right now, we are literally inches away from getting this done.”

As for data security, he said that though there is no evidence that identity theft is increasing as a result of recent well-publicized data losses, the public perception is that it is skyrocketing.

“As a result, 189 new data security bills were proposed in state capitals this session,” he said. “We already have 36 states with differing data security laws on the books with different triggers for notifications and widely varying requirements.” Greco added that the DMA supports on federal law with clear and consistent standards.

Greco also offered the crowd some statistics on the size of the direct marketing industry. According to the DMA

* direct-marketing-driven sales make up 10.3% of U.S. gross domestic product.

* 7.5% of U.S. employment is direct-marketing driven, accounting for 10.5 million jobs.

* business and nonprofits will spend $166.5 billion on direct marketing this year, a 6% boost from last year.

* direct-marketing-driven sales will reach $1.939 trillion this year, a 7.4% increase over 2005.