The DMA as Your Competitor
By Denny Hatch
In March 1991, I received a mailing from the Direct Marketing Association (of which I was a member) with the following lead:
Dear DMA Member, how many magazines and newspapers cross your desk each week? If you are like many busy direct marketers, you probably still have the last three issues of DM News [also a DMA member], along with various other trade publications, piled in your in-box.
The offer was for a subscription to Direct Link that would do away the need to subscribe to any of 100 trade journals. Instead, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) would provide "a concise, personalized report on any topic of your choice"—100-word to 300-word summaries of articles of interest pirated from industry publications. If you wanted the full story, it would be furnished for extra money. One of the publications offered was WHO'S MAILING WHAT!, a newsletter my wife, Peggy, and I were publishing with Paul Goldberg as our business partner.
I never granted the DMA permission to steal my material. I say "steal," because the DMA never offered to pay any royalties. I raised hell, firing off angry letters to the other direct marketing media and the DMA directors threatening to sue the pants off them for copyright infringement. DMA (then) CEO Jonah Gitlitz dismissed me by saying I was damn lucky to be included. Eventually the DMA dropped it.
Fast forward to the 1990s when I was president of this publication. The DMA announced it would be launching a new direct marketing magazine and competing for advertisers with Target Marketing, Direct and DM News—all three of us being dues-paying members of the DMA. I went to see Bob Weintzen, then head of the association, and said to him, "If you start a new magazine in direct competition with Target Marketing, I will be very pissed off."
"I expect you will," he said. DMA Insider was launched in direct competition with its members.
Fast forward to the DMA Annual conference last year. The new CEO John Greco called a meeting attended by Target Marketing Editor in Chief, Hallie Mummert, and other members of the trade press. According to Mummert, Greco told the group that his goal as the new leader of the DMA was to build bridges between industry members—including those editors at the table with him—and create a united direct marketing community.
Fast forward to a September 7, 2005, press release from the DMA:
New York, NY (September 7, 2005)-- Keeping in step with a growing process that today accounts for virtually 50 percent of U.S. advertising expenditures, The Direct Marketing Association (The DMA) has launched a monthly magazine called inMarketing -- the only magazine which covers the entire direct marketing spectrum.
The press release went on to dump on the contents and vision of other publications in the field. In effect, Greco is telling the world that Target Marketing, Direct and DM News are chopped liver. Among the three publications are probably 200 person-years of direct marketing experience and know-how. Can the same be said of Pohly & Partners Inc., that has been hired to turn out the new DMA magazine and steal these publications' advertisers?
The DMA has some serious issues to deal with. Among them: massive data and ID theft; Do Not Call legislation that threatens the telemarketing industry; horrendous Internet fraud and spam that give us all a black eye; potential postal rate increases; and the need to promote the benefits of direct marketing to the U.S. public.
Is the mission of the DMA to go into competition with its own members? Will it next become a list broker? Open a lettershop? Call itself a full-service agency?
With friends like Greco, who needs enemies?
Denny Hatch is a freelance direct marketing consultant and copywriter. You are invited to visit him at www. dennyhatch.com, or contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.