The Direct Marketing Association has created a new committee of high-profile members to focus on the growing b-to-b marketplace.
The eight-person Business-to-Business Segment Advisory Committee will help the New York-based DMA develop policies for such activities as lobbying Congress, aiding DMA members and creating privacy guidelines. The group will meet at least twice a year.
"This area is hot and we feel there's a need for the board of directors to be more wired into the b-to-b space," DMA president-CEO H. Robert Wientzen said.
Recent studies chronicle the b-to-b and e-commerce direct-marketing explosions. Much of the committee's attention will focus on the Internet, he said.
Of the 272 direct-marketing companies polled that conduct Web site transactions, 69% are making a profit on them, according to a DMA study released in March. This is up from 49% last year. Overall direct-marketing sales to businesses expanded 11% annually between 1994 and 1999, almost double the overall annual U.S. business sales growth of 5.6% during the period, according to DMA reports.
The new committee, like others the DMA has created, consists of high-profile direct marketers:
William Doescher, senior VP-chief communications officer, Dun & Bradstreet Inc.; committee co-head.
Loren Zeller, director of marketing-Latin America, IBM Corp.; committee co-head.
Anna Suarez, database marketing manager, Cisco Systems Inc.
Judy Kincaid, director of customer relationship management, Hewlett-Packard Co.
Corey Torrence, president-CEO, Epsilon.
Ruth Stevens, chief marketing officer, IPnetwork.com.
Bruce Baldwin, director of marketing, Deluxe Financial Services Inc.
Victor Hunter, president, Hunter Business Direct Inc.
The DMA has emerged as an authority on privacy issues, lobbying federal and state officials and creating guidelines for its 4,600 member companies. Most of its attention, however, has focused on consumers.
Several committee members cited b-to-b privacy as their top priority. Congress is starting to look into b-to-b privacy issues, and companies need to prepare themselves, Torrence said. "It would be folly not to consider that," he said. "B-to-b will become part of the e-political agenda."
The committee intends to help DMA members strike a balance between using information and shielding customers, Suarez said. "The privacy issue is regarding how companies use information that their customers and potential customers provide us with," she said, "and protecting them while doing what we need to do as business entities."
The committee also needs to help recruit new DMA members by letting prospective members know they already are doing b-to-b direct marketing--even if they don't know it yet, Kincaid said. "Businesses need to understand that the things they are already doing are direct marketing, [for example] list and data management," she said.
The b-to-b advisory committee is one of eight the DMA is creating. Others include Internet, international and catalog mail-order committees.