Welcome to Broker Roundtable, where each week we ask list brokers to give their opinions on issues that matter to the marketing community. This week's question: With the election year coming up, how much more restrictive legislation do you foresee that could affect marketers?
Our panel includes Don Eaker of Nexxa Group Inc., Leland Kroll of Kroll Direct Marketing and Shawn R. Salta of DirectMail.com. Would you like to be considered to be a member of our roundtable? Contact Larry Riggs (email@example.com).
Don Eaker, national director of sales, Nexxa Group Inc.:
Okay, here's a quick answer: None. Why? Let's look at the current political scenario: more than 10% national unemployment, rising inflation, wars on multiple fronts, an almost 18-month-long contentious Presidential election process, Congressional gridlock and the Tea Party's emergence.
I think it's going to be tough to champion privacy reform or new spam legislation when there are just a few other issues paramount in Congress' and the U.S. voters' minds. As big an issue nationally as privacy has been in the past, the combination of 9/11, changes in the way the government monitors information on U.S. citizens and the economic meltdown has made us a little jaded on this issue. I'm not talking about the politics either way. I just think we don't regard privacy—online or offline—as the most important need in households today.
Leland Kroll, president, Kroll Direct Marketing Inc.:
With the upcoming election, I don't foresee much new restrictive legislation being enacted. Certainly our politicians are exempt from the current or any new legislation so that won't affect their campaigns. I do see an opportunity for the more astute politicians to harness data more effectively. They can target their constituents via data enhancements through multichannel means such email and mobile marketing and sway voters by communicating with them on a more personalized basis.
Our industry has done an excellent job of adhering to and following the current privacy laws, such as CAN SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003) and DNC (National Do Not Call list). The Direct Marketing Association continues to fight for our industry on a daily basis. However, our industry needs to constantly be on our toes since it only takes a one or two detrimental news stories to draw negative attention to what we do each and every day: targeting qualified prospects so that our clients can succeed in marketing their goods and services.
Shawn R. Salta, vice president, DirectMail.com:
I do not foresee any restrictive legislation coming down the pike before or after the next election. The candidates' primary focus will remain job growth and economic stimulation and restrictive legislation will only hinder those two goals. Once the economy rebounds, however, we can expect to see consumer privacy concerns gain traction in Congress again. As long as marketers are diligent and careful, we'll be able to avoid extreme restrictions.