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Live from the DMI Co-op: Greco Warns of Threats to Mail Channel

By Apr 28, 2006

Rising gas prices will serve as a spurious justification for a postal rate hike in the “high single digits,” (between seven and nine percent, for instance), according to John A. Greco Jr., the DMA’s president and CEO.

It’s a nice cover story, but it’s only part of the reason, at best, Greco continued. When the new recommendations come out, in the next week or two, labor costs and the question of whether the Postal Service will have to cover the military pensions of its workers will have a greater impact on the organization’s fortunes.

Of course, all this is moot if proposed do-not-mail lists are enacted. During a keynote address, Greco noted that while several localities have pitched creating mail opt-out lists, “none have extraordinary legs,” that could realistically result in their being enacted.

This is partly because direct mail has a different level of intrusiveness when compared with the telephone, he continued. That said, marketers need to do a better job of explaining to consumers that if they opt out of any channel, they are shutting off a good deal of relevant communication.

This was the only registry Greco called into question. Opt-out e-mail databases, such as the one Utah runs ostensibly to prevent children from receiving inappropriate communications, present a tempting target for miscreants looking to target children.

“That registry itself is a hacker’s dream,” Greco said.

Greco returned several times to the concept of ill-conceived legislation. He urged attendees at the Direct Media Inc. 2006 Client Conference and Co-op to communicate with elected officials about the difference between protecting personal data and marketing data. There is a difference between a marketer storing the fact that he wears purchases red ties to wear when speaking in public, and organizations storing Social Security numbers or credit card numbers.

“We cannot let these two [types of data] be swept together,” in omnibus legislation, he said, adding that while Congressional bills pending in the Commerce Committee are close to what the DMA would like to see enacted, several being considered by the Banking and Judiciary committees would prove more onerous.