Thursday, August 23, 2007

Kudos to the Direct Marketing Association!

This week, Forbes reports that the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), has spent $350,000 for lobbying in just the first half of 2007. The DMA has been lobbying on "legislation involving consumer privacy and protection, the postal system, and a bill to make the moratorium on Internet access taxes permanent, according to a form posted online Aug. 6 by the Senate's public records office. Besides Congress, the association lobbied the Treasury Department, Federal Communications Commission, Federal Trade Commission and the Commerce Department." Phew! Well, now we know where our membership dues go, right?

It's nice to know that the organization that serves direct marketers is so fully involved with our lawmakers to ensure that we can continue to do the good work that we do -- while at the same time protecting the rights of consumers and businesses. The DMA has done an excellent job of balancing the need of the direct marketing industry to market effectively and the need of the public at large to be marketed to in an appropriate way.

As direct marketers, we are under fire more often than not. Even when we explain what we do for a living to relatives, we often get the snide remarks alluding to the fact that we are responsible for all of the unwanted mail and phone calls that they get. I know -- makes for uncomfortable dinner conversation. However, the legislation that has been put into place over the last few years in particular has given consumers the ability to be left alone if they prefer it (i.e., Do-Not-Solicit, Do-Not-Call, CAN SPAM Act, etc.). So, Uncle Herman, put that in your pipe and smoke it! : )

A lot of the reason for the negative press around direct marketing is that there are still those unscrupulous souls who don't pay any attention to the above-mentioned legislation. However, because of the hefty fines associated with all of these laws, the unscrupulous ones have definitely been on the decline (or have had to resort to being more sneaky, thus more easy to spot). So, the legislation has definitely worked to benefit the consumer (and that means all of us -- direct marketers or not).

Luckily, the DMA stays in tune with all of the legislative bodies to ensure that they don't go overboard in their protective stances. This is important -- we need to ensure that there is balance, otherwise, we will become unable to effectively market. Marketing is good -- not bad. But it needs to be done in a way that takes into consideration the desires of those to whom we market. As we work with our clients to create more profitable customer relationships, we need to keep this in mind. Let's face it, without marketing there is no commerce. As direct marketers, it is essential to ensure that we market correctly -- and it's imperative that our industry association -- the DMA -- continues to ensure that we are allowed to continue to do so.

So, a heartfelt thanks to the DMA -- keep up the good work!

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