Postage rates No. 1 topic at VT/NH DMG forum

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The new postage rates that go into effect on May 14 aren't the only reason that the Vermont/New Hampshire Direct Marketing Group's annual conference this week promises to draw an impassioned crowd. With Vermont having recently introduced a do-not-mail bill, it's safe to say local mailers are feeling some pressure.

Not helping matters is the weather. Vermont and New Hampshire both suffered extensive power outages, local flooding and expected some roads to be closed for weeks after the nor'easter that hit the East Coast last week.

"I think given some of the issues facing the direct marketing industry right now, that the conference is going to be very lively and that networking is going to be very important to people," said Sari White, VT/NH DMG administrative coordinator.

The VT/NH DMG office in Woodstock, VT, was one of the businesses affected by the storm and was without power for three days. As a result, it has extended the early-bird registration rate for the conference, which will take place May 2-4 on the coast of New Hampshire in New Castle. The theme for this year's show is "Smooth Sailing in 2007: An Ocean of Ideas."

Several items in the conference schedule address the postage issue. A panel discussion on May 3 will discuss options available to mailers to mitigate the postage increase. A town hall forum on May 4 afternoon was added at the last minute so members can ask questions about to how fight or deal with the increase.

"It's going to become more important for catalogers to rely on e-mail marketing," Ms. White said.

The VT/NH DMG will have an e-mail marketing expert at the town hall forum and is offering a session on the future of e-mail marketing.

Catalogers are definitely interested in anything related to Internet marketing this year, said Nancy Swanson, chairwoman for the conference and vice president of marketing at Swanson Advertising. She also pointed to a couple of sessions that offer something a little different such as a panel discussion on how to build or expand a distribution center or warehouse and a session on how to increase response rates by targeting carrier routes instead of ZIP codes.

"Our Web-oriented and blogging sessions are very popular," Ms. Swanson said.

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