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NEW YORK-The Direct Marketing Association's new marketing chief hopes to boost the trade group's membership ranks, now facing flat growth after years of steady gains.

Peter Eustis, 55, was named senior VP-marketing this month. He resigned earlier this year as senior VP-personalized sales and services at Dun & Bradstreet Information Services, taking an early retirement package after a 25-year D&B career.

Mr. Eustis succeeds Lindsay Schieffelin, now VP-marketing services at the Promotional Productions Association, Irving, Texas. Mr. Schieffelin left amid the DMA membership slowdown.

"When you think of it, out of the 10 million businesses in the U.S., probably a million of them do some sort of direct marketing," Mr. Eustis said. "More companies can take advantage of what the DMA has to offer. My job is to help get them on board."

The DMA's slowdown comes despite burgeoning interest in the field from relative newcomers like pharmaceutical and computer companies and even newspaper publishers. Interactive marketing, which borrows on the principles of direct response, has also attracted new converts.

But the fields are underrepresented among the DMA's membership, principally made up of catalogers and direct mail sellers of financial services and other products.

Although the DMA's fall conference routinely attracts 8,000 to 10,000 people, as of June 30 the group had just 3,116 U.S. members, plus another 529 outside the country. Many at conference attendees are non-member suppliers and exhibitors.

"It's flattened out a little bit the last two years," said DMA President Jonah Gitlitz. "Now, we'd like to pick it back up again."

Mr. Gitlitz said that besides luring new members, Mr. Eustis is charged with developing plans to reduce "churn" and retain members. He will also promote the group's other services, including conferences, seminars and its library.

"The initial phase of my work will be analysis; then we'll develop a marketing plan so we have a coordinated effort. I don't really know what the weak spots are, but I'm sure we can shore things up," Mr. Eustis said in a phone interview midway through his first day on the job.

Membership fees for the DMA range from $740 to $26,900, based on the member company's revenue.

Gary Levin coordinates Direct Marketing.

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