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Recession Boogeyman Starting to Claim Association Events, Too

In letter to members, DMA president calls event business 'volatile.'


Chandra  Johnson-Greene By Chandra Johnson-Greene
03/04/2009 -13:23 PM






Industry associations are feeling the economic pinch as much as publishers these days. Events are being scrutinized as one area for consolidation or cutbacks. After high-profile cancellations from MPA and ABM, the DMA has made another round of cuts, as well as some trimming of its event portfolio.

Below is the letter that president and CEO John Greco sent to DMA members yesterday, which states that the organization will have "less dependence on the more volatile parts of our traditional revenue stream, especially our large portfolio of conferences and events.”

TO: DMA Members

As the recession worsens, the economic activity of business and consumers is re-setting around the world, and taking the global economy into uncharted territory. In October, 2008 we took the necessary and appropriate steps to restructure DMA given our understanding of the economic downturn at that time. Now that we all have a better sense of what to expect over the next 12-18 months, DMA must be positioned to continue to provide outstanding member service with less dependence on the more volatile parts of our traditional revenue stream, especially our large portfolio of conferences and events. Like everyone else, we are re-setting to make sure we're prepared to ride out this recession. We are anticipating where the economic pressures will continue to affect us, and restructuring accordingly to ensure that DMA comes out stronger and smarter in serving the needs of the direct marketing community, and enhancing the direct marketing process—which continues to drive nearly ten percent of U.S. gross domestic product. At the same time it is very clear that we can further serve our members during these challenging times by being poised to take full advantage of opportunities appearing every day in emerging channels and markets.

DMA will survive and thrive because the direct marketing process remains vital and will play a key role in economic recovery. The direct marketing community needs its Association, perhaps now, even more than ever. DMA is aggressively controlling what we can control, while minimizing the risk of what we can't, and helping our members do exactly the same. Our actions reflect what's happening throughout advertising and marketing, and our membership - we are similarly affected.

We will be reducing our staff by an additional 19% today, affecting 26 people. Affected employees will be notified today. We understand that news like this creates uncertainty, but we are moving ahead to accomplish what is necessary for DMA's long term success. We will continue to make the right decisions to keep our association efficient and strong. This is a very difficult decision which we do not take lightly, and we are committed to treating affected employees fairly.

DMA will maintain strength in advocacy and reputation management helping to position the direct marketing community to participate in the re-set and recovery of the economy. We remain committed to keeping every channel open and economically viable. Our priorities continue to include issues that range from behavioral marketing, privacy and data security, internet, and remote sales tax, to Do Not Mail/Do Not Contact legislation. We will continue to address these issues through DMA's independent efforts, as well as by taking leadership positions within strong coalitions such as Mail Moves America (MMA), the Internet Alliance (IA), and The National Advertising Review Council (NARC). We'll be doing even more than we have ever done, and achieving that by taking a new approach to our mix of People, Process, and Technology. We are committed to honoring consumer preferences through dmachoice.org, to developing best practices, and self-regulatory guidelines for direct marketers.

In fact, across our entire value proposition DMA members can count on us to do more with less by being innovative and reinventing the way we do things. In Education and Professional Skills development we will do more for our members with fewer resources by using the latest "e-platforms" to quickly deliver the latest best practices, current information on what's working (and what's not) in direct marketing, and how everyone can leverage their resources for the best ROI. We also plan process change in Research, such as changing the service delivery model and outsourcing more of the process, but preserving the same high quality, mission critical knowledge our members depend on.

DMA's conference and event offerings will continue to meet a wide range of our members' needs. If you are asking "what will I get out of this?" we can assure an essential, "must-have" experience. Our events provide exceptional education and networking platforms, business development prospects and superior lead generation. Therefore, in order to serve the needs of our members we will proceed with our signature events such as DMA'09, DMDays, the Non-Profit Federation Conferences and the Email Evolution Conference, as well as our partner events such as ACCM, NCOF and NCDM. All other existing events will be cancelled or included within our premiere events.

We're confident we can continue to provide extraordinary value to our members. We will use this opportunity to reinvent the Association with a promise to continuously serve our members' evolving needs.

In the coming weeks, we'll be communicating with you to keep you informed of how we're doing in making these changes. We're committed to delivering the value that will keep your business healthy enough to survive this downturn and thrive over the long term. We thank you for your continued support.

Best Regards,

John A. Greco, Jr.
President & CEO
Direct Marketing Association

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Chandra  Johnson-Greene By Chandra Johnson-Greene --

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