I’m excited to step into the role of ERA chairman for the 2014–2015 term, and especially honored to be the first chair from the payment processing industry. One of the reasons I joined the Board of Directors and then ran for chair was that I believe in the importance of payment processing as it applies to the direct response infrastructure. Payment processing is a vital function for marketers and their companies—if you can’t accept credit cards as a form of payment, your business is likely to fail.
As chair, I plan to leverage my experience in payment processing to bring a new perspective to ERA as it expands its efforts in advocacy, business development, and membership growth. ERA’s advocacy is important for marketers and suppliers alike. When ERA keeps markets open for responsible companies, suppliers benefit from continued and increased business. For both groups, it is important that we tackle issues such as the online sales tax, product counterfeiting, and advertising claims and substantiation.
In addition, marketers and suppliers are concerned about developments on issues such as the Negative Option Rule and efforts by government agencies to restrict payment processing via Operation Choke Point. ERA recently played an instrumental role in keeping the Negative Option Rule intact—a testament to its influence on Capitol Hill.
What’s more, ERA and the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) continue to strengthen relationships with the FTC and other government agencies by working collaboratively to reach common ground on self-regulation. This year’s ERA Government Affairs Fly-In is a phenomenal example of how a trade organization can successfully work hand-in-hand with the FTC to hold fraudulent marketers accountable.
I also plan to continue the commendable work of my predecessor, Elliott Segal, who brought broader awareness about the omnichannel universe and advanced business development opportunities to members. Traditional direct marketers can learn a great deal from companies like Murad, Inc., UFC Fit, Guthy-Renker, LLC, and Beachbody, LLC, which are embracing the digital media and, as a result, creating innovative marketing campaigns and generating substantial profits.
Companies can no longer survive in the old DR paradigm. They must diversify or be left behind. As an organization, we, too, must evolve by bringing more digital members into the fold.
Over the next year, I look forward to working alongside ERA President and CEO Julie Coons and the ERA team to implement the association’s strategic plan. With your support and encouragement, I’m confident we can achieve great success.