My colleagues and I spent the first part of last week at the DMA's huge annual event in New Orleans (I can't imagine a better place for after-hours events). This year's event was kicked off by the DMA's new President, John A. Greco. It was his inaugural speech and he did a solid job of covering a wide range of topics. I was pleased to hear him reference the interactive side of direct marketing repeatedly and I noticed that both his speech and much of the DMA's own literature now says, "Direct and Interactive Marketing". It is clear that Greco intends to be far more inclusive to the online world that the DMA has been in the past. I was also surprised and somewhat impressed at just how broad the DMA's political lobbying efforts extend. Greco did a good job of outlining some of the major legislative issues facing direct marketers: cross-state internet taxes, privacy and, of course, spam. Not being directly involved with these things, I admit to falling prey to the belief that "these things just work themselves out." It was eye opening to see how actively these issues are discussed on capitol hill and just how much resources are stacked on all sides of these incredibly important issues.
In the past, I have been worried that email was slipping off the DMA's radar. The surprisingly low turn out of ESP vendors this year only fueled that concern. However, Greco's speech as well as dialogs with the various DMA folks gives me reason to be optimistic. In a way, the DMA and email are inseparable. The future is online and email is the online brother of traditional direct marketing... it's that simple. At Silverpop, we have decided to step up beyond being passive observers and take a more active role. If the DMA is looking for ideas on how to better incorporate email into its agenda, we are ready to help in any way we can. We've already had some great discussions and I believe the DMA may well regain their position as the best trade organization for serious email marketers.
Next year's DMA annual is in Atlanta and we are looking forward to having this one in our backyard.