Commentary: The Little Engine That Can't (Without You)
The two-year-old American Catalog Mailers Association (ACMA) trudges along like a little engine that could. But can it? Despite its newness and relatively tiny membership, this organization has delivered an effective wake-up call to both the USPS and the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) on the plight of catalog mailers, helping foster the recent postal “summer sale.”
Most of the individuals from ACMA’s 56 catalog member companies, which shell out a quarter of 1 percent of their annual postal bills in dues, joined ACMA because they felt the Direct Marketing Association had too many other mouths to feed — namely, the DMA’s far more influential letter mailers. The group also has six consultant members and 15 vendor members, who pay a different dues structure. Although many have remained DMA members as well, they felt the DMA’s support for its letter-mailer contingent was working against them in postal rate-setting matters.
But it sure seems like many of these same ACMA members could use a wake-up call of their own. I was rather stunned to find out that just seven ACMA member companies, all of whose raison d’etre is the print catalog, were represented by eight people at a recent two-day forum the group held with several key postal and PRC reps in Washington, D.C.
The few who made it came from companies with annual sales as little as $20 million or so. But they were able to cough up the nearly $1,000 for travel and lodging, etc., forfeit two days out of the office, and tolerate the D.C. heat in August to attend the meetings. As one attendee told me, “I have incredible challenges as a CEO, and as hard as it is to take this time from other things, if I don’t, I won’t have a business and we won’t have an industry. I can’t lose sight of the fact that this needs to be one of my top priorities.”