Two weeks ago, the Direct Marketing Association’s new CEO, John Greco, held a press conference at the association’s headquarters to lay out the group’s strategy for 2005. Interactive, he made plain, was about to get some long overdue love from the organization.
“Direct, interactive, we’re trying to use these terms interchangeably,” he said. “The Association of Interactive Marketers (AIM) has been a silo. What we really need to do is take their benefits and research and make sure everyone benefits. The notion that interactivity applies only to a certain set of people is… outdated.”
In a follow-up interview, ClickZ asked Greco to spell out in greater detail how the DMA will approach interactive marketing going forward.
Q.How does interactive fit into the big picture at the DMA?
A.Interactive marketing is a discipline that is increasingly practiced by more than 80 percent our members. It is key to their current and future plans and success. I am committed to integrating the knowledge and expertise of the interactive marketplace that had been siloed in AIM and make it available to every one of our more than 5,000 members.
Q.How does that compare with the DMA’s view a year ago?
A.The DMA began taking steps forward last year, becoming more involved in the activities of AIM. A year later, we have successfully integrated AIM into the strategy of the DMA, and interactive marketing programming has become an intrinsic part of DMA event programming.
Q.Your association had a pretty big falling out with interactive marketers in 2003, over the release of a set of email marketing guidelines. Some people think the relationship was never really patched up. Any plans to rectify things?
A.The past is the past. I believe that we have to continue to work toward leveraging the expertise of AIM for our broader membership. That work will help many in the interactive community begin to feel like they have a greater role in the DMA and find exciting educational and networking opportunities tailor-made for them, like the Interactive Pavilion at our 88th Annual Conference & Exhibition in Atlanta in October.
Q.We haven’t heard much from AIM recently. Considering the consolidation of your interactive shows, what role is there for a separate interactive unit?
A.I would challenge you on this front. In fact, AIM hosted a topical and standing-room-only breakfast on spyware recently and will be hosting a similar one on search engine marketing in March. I think AIM and its members have been very active and I believe they will continue to help the DMA in shaping educational and networking opportunities, as well as engaging with us on research and helping to inform policy decisions.
Beyond these tactical goals, our broader membership must leverage the expertise of AIM and its members as it continues to move toward more efficient and effective use of interactive technology to build and maintain relationships with current and prospective customers and donors.
Q.What’s new with the Internet Alliance? What can we expect out of those guys in 2005?
A.The IA will now report to the DMA’s SVP of government affairs, our chief lobbyist. In this way, we can be assured that we are fully integrating and leveraging all of the substantial state-level resources of the IA as we formulate policy decisions.
Q.What key legislative issues affecting digital media are you following and lobbying around?
A.As you perhaps know, there is a spyware bill moving in Congress right now and a more universal privacy bill that is expected to be introduced this year. In addition we are monitoring Congressional activity on proposals that would impact taxation of remote commerce. While it may not always seem relevant, the truth is that even our activity in the postal reform and postage rate arenas are very much tied to e-commerce.
Obviously, without affordable and competitive fulfillment options, many multi-channel and pure-play Internet retailers would have difficulties and/or higher-than-necessary costs associated with delivering products to their customers.
Q.Do you see search as direct marketing?
A.Search is a very prominent tactic for many of our members. It is critical that we stay on top of this field and help our members get the most out of this technology. I would say that the lines between what has in the past been thought of as direct and what has been considered interactive… will continue to blur. This distinction is less important than recognizing that our members are focused on delivering relevance to current and prospective customers and donors at the optimal time. Search engine marketing does that.
Q.Describe a day in the life John Greco.
A.Toughest question, yet.
Without taking your readers through the gore of my commute or the sometimes challenging moments of raising three teenagers, I think I could summarize a workday in my life by saying that it is about inclusivity and transparency.
I often tell some of my staffers as we ride the elevator up to the 13th floor together: I am genuinely excited to be at the DMA. One of the best parts of my job is being able to show off this great organization to new members or members who have not connected fully with us in the past. I get to show them how we manage the issues and concerns they have. And, how we can make them feel part of something big and exciting.
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