Time for a DMA redo

JUST AS THIS ISSUE WAS GOING TO PRESS we got word that John A. Greco Jr. had resigned as president/CEO of the Direct Marketing Association.

My first reaction: What took him so long?

Many expected Greco to be ousted after the proxy fight in October, just before the DMA’s annual board meeting. That’s when dissident board member Gerry Pike waged an e-mail campaign to gather DMA members’ proxy votes and get himself back on the DMA board.

Pike prevailed; a few other new board members were named; and change was promised. But the ruckus pretty much ended with a whimper.

Except that the Greco genie was out of the bottle. The proxy war put the spotlight on concerns people had with the state of the DMA, and they wanted his head on a platter.

Greco’s exorbitant compensation (more than $800,000, according to the most recent tax filings) was one issue — a big one. The fact that he wasn’t too accessible to members and that he didn’t seem to have catalogers’ best interests in mind were just a few other negatives.

(My beef with Greco? He doesn’t care much for reporters. At a press conference at his first DMA Annual Show, he got a little snippy with my colleague Ken Magill over questions that were not out of line. Journalists remember these things.)

The new DMA board chair, Eugene Raitt, has said DMA needs to better emphasize digital channels. That’s true, but the association must also focus more attention on the catalog contingent if it expects them to join or remain members.

The crippling postage rate hike of 2007 showed that DMA wasn’t on top of, or wasn’t interested in, catalog issues — or maybe it was just plain ineffective. The fledgling American Catalog Mailer’s Association has accomplished more in three years on the catalog postage front than DMA has in decades.

So the DMA has a lot of brand damage to undo if the group truly wants to be relevant to today’s multichannel marketers. New leadership is always a start.

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