DMA named Thomas Benton as Interim CEO/COO and Jane Berzan as Interim President this week. Tom and Jane have both been intimately involved in leading the implementation of DMA’s strategic plan as well as current initiatives and ongoing operations. Benton formerly served DMA as chief operating officer and Berzan as senior vice president of programs, marketing and events. While they are taking some time to reflect and develop their specific plans, we wanted DMA members to have a chance to get to know them better now.
Q. Congratulations! You’re both already on the ground here, but what is the first thing you will be doing in your new roles?
Jane: I have two words guiding me right now: Listen and Learn. I want to meet with members and partners, and learn about what is important to them and where they see the industry going so that DMA can be proactive in responding to the current and future needs of the industry. I know that we can do better at delivering greater business value with our events and programs and ultimately strengthening the overall member value proposition. A key first step is to listen.
Tom: I plan to shine a light on some of the amazing things that DMA and our members are already doing together – from new training resources to modernized Compliance Guidelines to having 240 teams compete for our 2013 Analytics Challenge with the Cleveland Clinic. While DMA has a long and rich history, it continues to evolve in step with always changing marketing environment. we want to make sure that every member has the chance to take full advantage of all the great resources here. I’m also going to focus on new investments in programs, communities and technology to make the entire organization more robust and productive.
Q. Will DMA continue its strong emphasis on Advocacy?
Tom: Absolutely. Our industry is in one of the toughest regulatory environments of the past decade, with the FTC, White House, Congress and many states looking to regulate the collection and use of consumer data, postal rates, sales taxes and data breach notification. As I am sure you saw recently on 60 Minutes, Steve Croft cited DMA as “one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington D.C.”
DMA’s large membership has a powerful collective voice in Washington and with state legislatures as well. DMA will continue on our Five Fundamentals agenda, where we are already making good progress, especially on data breach notification and continued work for more transparent self-regulation. This is an area where previous President & CEO Linda Woolley excelled, and with Peggy Hudson (formerly Vice President, Federal and International Affairs with BP, America) leading the team in our Government Affairs group, we will continue the momentum. We continue to move forward with our mission of advancing and protecting responsible data-driven marketing.
Jane: In the fast-paced environment of direct marketing in 2014 and beyond, the best role for a trade association is to protect our self-regulation status – which is a privilege, not a right. That means guiding the industry in protecting consumers and the responsible use of data, helping consumers get the right offers and services in the right channels to power their digital lifestyles, and ensuring that every marketer has the training, tools and benchmarks to be effective, ethical marketers. The regulatory environment affects us all, and thus is evident in every program we produce.
Q. What are some of the bright spots at DMA now?
Jane: There are many.
Tom: Membership is growing with big brands, large and small nonprofits and many marketing suppliers, particularly in the big data and analytics areas. We are strengthening the value proposition for all members – marketers, nonprofits and suppliers – with our training, events and networking. I’m also excited about the composition and commitment of our Board to help guide us with representatives from industry titans like IBM and American Express, market creators like Google and Facebook, and ad:tech leaders like MediaMath and Alliant. DMA prides itself in representing businesses of all sizes and in all stages of development. Bringing these companies together to meet their collective and individual needs is powerful.
Q What can members expect from this change?
Tom: Members should expect DMA to continue to innovate programs to improve member value, help us to grow each of our businesses and protect our self-regulated industry status. As DMA approaches its 100th year, we have an extraordinary and exciting opportunity and responsibility to anticipate “what’s next?” for the industry and the Association. It’s one that we embrace, take seriously and will commit leadership and resources to steward wisely.
Jane: I urge every member to reach out to me or any DMA staff member to be heard and help us improve our programming to meet your needs. Our goal is to continue to launch new initiatives that help our members’ business growth and professional success. We are entering our Fiscal Year 2015 planning now, and so it’s a great time to adjust priorities and optimize our efforts.
Q. Tell me about your background, and what has prepared you for this new role.
Tom: Ladies first!
Jane: Thanks, Tom. I’m so excited about this new role and the opportunity ahead. My experience in trade association leadership will serve me well in terms of keeping an open dialogue with members and encouraging their feedback. Beyond innovating and refreshing our events and programs, we will be focused on forming strategic alliances with organizations that can add value and increase participation in DMA events, increase efficiency and support our financial objectives. I’ve also run a marketing and communications consultancy, where my clients included trade associations, non profits and corporations in the technology and data industries. I know firsthand the challenges for some our smaller members, as well as the challenges of business leaders who are racing to adapt in our dynamic modern marketing ecosystem.
Tom: It will be great to collaborate with Jane and the rest of the leadership team here, all of whom are seasoned experts in their functional areas. When I was leading the marketing analysis team at AOL, we would literally wake up each day and face a whole new marketplace – things just moved that fast. I’d like to bring some of that dynamism to DMA in recognition of the fact that marketing is still moving fast and evolving every day. Mobile, big data and integration are challenging marketers every day – and in that evolving environment, we still have to build brands, nurture trust and loyalty and engage customers across devices and channels.
Q What is the value of trade associations in modern marketing?
Tom: There are a few things that a trade association can do uniquely – that no single company can do on its own. Establish Ethical Guidelines and police the industry from bad actors is a big one. Advocate and lobby to protect marketers – and do this so that companies can educate policymakers without being in the limelight. Create standards for professional Certification, and manage the requirements of those standards. Additionally, a collective voice is powerful and being part of an association means you are a member of a large class, which can reduce the vulnerability of operating alone.
Jane: The more dynamic an industry is, the more it needs a strong trade association. Trade associations not only advocate on behalf of their members and provide education, but they also facilitate networking. In fact, networking is often at the top of the list for members as they consider joining or renewing their involvement. Discussing issues and solutions with peers can be as valuable as formalized workshops and sessions which is why networking opportunities are integrated into all of DMA’s events and programs. Our committees and councils are also excellent ways for meeting other marketers, to share challenges and discuss best practices for the industry. Going forward, we will increasingly support and develop these types of communities and forums for information exchange. After all, this is a people-centric industry and a key role for DMA is to provide effective settings for building long lasting business relationships.
Q. How can members get in touch with you to offer feedback and ideas?
Both: We’d love that! Just email or call us.
Tom Benton, +1 212 790 1554
Jane Berzan, +1 202 861 2430