Blend of new and familiar faces at DM Days

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CHICAGO - This year's Chicago Direct Marketing Days & Expo traded in views of Lake Michigan for coziness and convenience - key benefits of holding this annual event across several levels at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers just minutes from Michigan Avenue.

Another advantage of holding the show at this venue is bumping into familiar faces. Why, there's Joe DeCosmo, senior principal at Allant Group and immediate past president of DM Days host Chicago Association of Direct Marketing. He has a smile on his face. Is business that good?

"For us, being in the database and analytics side of it business couldn't be better," Mr. DeCosmo said. "What we see is companies just constantly trying to use their budgets more effectively and to us it really means integrating data, analytics and measurement into every aspect of direct marketing."

Several people walk by or are milling around. Let's start with Neysa Bennett, president of direct marketing recruiter Bennett Wheelless, and her colleague, Heather Baker. Who cannot enjoy their charming company, especially when they know practically everybody at DM Days?

Well, hello there - it's Rosalie Harris, who handles public relations for CADM. A big hug is part of the deal. We bump into Carol White and Nancy Artz - Ron Marsh before them - all big cheeses this year at CADM and DM Days.

As the day progresses, Don Harle comes into focus. Mr. Harle is this year's Charles S. Downs Direct Marketer of the year. He's a past president of CADM and also father to another past president, Holly. She's out to lunch with a client. And he's lent this writer his room so he can file reports in peace and quiet and with a stable Internet connection. Thank you, Mr. Harle.

At the keynote we run into Yvonne Furth and Lor Gold. Ms. Furth is president and chief operating officer of Rivet Chicago and Mr. Gold is chief creative officer. Ms. Furth was former president of Draft Chicago, a sibling agency to Rivet. They are the keynote speakers, offering insight into the changing face of direct marketing.

Chaperoning the Rivet duo is Draftfcb's newly promoted associate director of corporate communications - drum roll, please - Eric Edge. Congratulations. We scooped everyone with this news. Not sure if we were supposed to …

The keynote hall was packed with veterans and youngsters, some of them students from Northern Illinois University.

In fact, there are quite a few young faces this year - refreshing if an industry has to attract talent when there's so much competition out there.

Talking of talent, attendees owe many thanks to hard working DM Days volunteer Mary S. MacLaren. Her day job is vice president of direct marketing services at SRDS, Des Plaines, IL. She thinks the direct marketing industry is in a pretty good shape.

"With the exception of the impact of the postal rate increases," Ms. MacLaren points out. "People just accepted those increases over time and these [new rate hikes] are so big and extreme for catalogers.

"So we need to support our industry by writing to our Congressmen and state legislators and making them aware of the economic impact of the rate increases on the printing industry, the catalog industry and marketers," she said.

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