Live from DMA08: Deepening Connections: New DMA Chairman Kelly Browning Looks Ahead
October 14, 2008 — American Institute for Cancer Research Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Kelly B. Browning today addressed attendees at the DMA08 Conference & Exhibition, which is being held at the Las Vegas Convention Center through Thursday, October 16. Browning was elected DMA chairman of the board for 2009 and served as Board vice chairman in 2008. He succeeds American List Counsel, Inc. (ALC) Chairman/Chief Executive Officer Donn Rappaport, who will continue to serve on the DMA Board.
Browning expressed pride and optimism for DMA’s work, and for the DMA08 conference itself, which he said improves year after year. “I think this yearly improvement is a result of the huge numbers of marketing professionals who turn out each year to ‘connect’ with the newest ideas and freshest thinking in direct marketing,” Browning said. “What makes it all work is that most of us consistently do make those kinds of connections.”
“The community that surrounds the direct marketing process is large, diverse, and strong, with the potential to be even stronger,” Browning continued. “I am very proud of DMA and its members, and everything we do on behalf of the direct marketing community. I also feel quite honored to be able to lead the DMA as chairman during a time when we really need to strengthen both the association as well as the entire direct marketing community.”
Although the scope and diversity of the direct marketing community is formidable, there is still a great deal of potential to grow even stronger, Browning asserted. “Over three years ago,” he said, “we set in place a strategic plan to take DMA from our successful role in the traditional direct marketing world to an even more successful role, in a whole new kind of world, one that’s digital and multichannel.”
In the coming year, Browning said, DMA’s focus on political engagement will be more important than ever. “No matter what happens at the polls in 21 days, we have important work to do in this area, on both sides of the aisle, and not only in Washington but in our state capitals as well.”
Browning pointed out that DMA places a high priority on raising the level of excellence throughout all aspects of the direct marketing process.
“DMA does that in so many ways, starting with the ethical guidelines we all adhere to as members and which we, as an association, constantly evaluate and evolve,” he told DMA08 conferees. “DMA members develop and share best practices, to constantly improve the excellence of marketing operations. DMA offers professional development and executive education, and creates events that help individuals improve their own level of excellence and develop their careers.”
Offering consumers more choice, and fostering consumer trust, are also essential to DMA’s strategy, Browning explained. This, he said will be vital in perpetuating marketers’ ability to self-regulate.
But, Browning pointed out, in order to achieve successful political engagement, DMA members’ participation is required in a variety of ways, not just through paying membership dues. “Without that kind of involvement, it is very difficult for the Association to be able to influence and persuade policymakers. We also need participation to strengthen the commitment we have to our core principles — principles that keep direct marketing healthy and vibrant.”
Browning cited a recent proposal by California state legislature for a new law to extend sweepstakes rules. That proposal included a requirement for an opt-in response for any name gathered before that name and address could be rented or exchanged. DMA opposed the bill on the principle that opt-in is not a reasonable standard when an offer to opt-out meets the needs of the consumer.
DMA asked members marketing in California to join in opposing the bill, Browning explained. However, one large member decided to stay neutral. “Now to me, that is just wrong,” Browning said. “As a community, we have to collectively take principled stands, and support one another in them, if we are going to succeed in keeping all the marketing channels open and economically viable. . . . I ask you for your commitment, so that we can mobilize the grassroots power we have across this vast direct marketing community, both to minimize risk and to seize opportunity.”
“By the way,” Browning said, “our principled opposition did succeed in getting opt-in requirement removed from the final legislation — a big victory for our members.”
In conclusion, Browning stressed the importance of unity and commitment in achieving the shared goals and the direct marketing community.
“Working together, we can not only protect but expand that zone where direct marketing converges with the needs and preferences of customers, within the dictates of public policy,” Browning said. “That’s our challenge for the year. It’s a big one, but something that we will strive to attain.”
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