DMA Revamps Fall Show: Exhibitor Number Continues Decline

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It's more than a name change. Next week's annual fall conference is a brand new show, the Direct Marketing Association claims. DMA·05 runs Oct. 16-19 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta with 515 exhibiting companies, down from 550 last year.


"The overarching thing that's new at the show is that just about everything is new at the show," said Anne A. Schaeffer, DMA senior vice president of education and events.


For one thing, sessions have been revamped.


"There is much more content, much more depth, much more breadth, so no matter what part of the process you are engaged in there's something there for you," she said. "We're doing basic, intermediate and advanced sessions so everyone can find a session to match their experience level."


The DMA has seen a decline in exhibitors in the past few years and a significant drop from 2000, when 600 companies exhibited during the dot-com heyday. Attendance, however, is a mystery because the DMA doesn't release those figures.


Sessions are labeled by tracks as they always have been, but the difficulty levels are new. Tracks include catalogs, customer relationship management, direct mail, dimensional mail, DRTV/infomercials, e-mail, interactive (Web driven), inserts/co-op mail, multichannel marketing, magazines/newspapers, radio, search engine and telemarketing.


Returning from last year are Web usability labs, Web creative critiques and ask-the-experts roundtables with an added search engine marketing labs feature. A preconference weekend program features six tracks of sessions covering creative, CRM, executive issues, production, planning/research and list/database.


Another addition to DMA·05 is a disaster recovery session set for Oct. 18. Attendees can share stories about what marketers did post-9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.


To aid victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, cooperative database firm I-Behavior is conducting a blood drive with the American Red Cross from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 18 near the registration area at the convention center.


Though the DMA held the conference in Atlanta in the late 1980s, Schaeffer considers it to be a new city for this year.


"It's a very different Atlanta than it was then," she said. "The convention center is a brand new building, and it also has tons of restaurants and bars and music."


DMA president/CEO John A. Greco Jr. will present the traditional state of the industry report, though the organization's strategic plan that was unveiled at the start of the year will figure heavily. Greco will address attendees at 8:45 a.m. Oct. 17. Part of the strategy laid out in the plan involved improving direct marketing's overall image and brand.


"Most of the work that we have done this year has focused on that, and we're going to be showing a little bit of that at DMA·05," said Louis Mastria, DMA vice president of communications.


Mastria would not reveal what Greco will talk about specifically but said there will be new information in terms of next steps in the strategic plan. The plan set five goals for the DMA:


· Increase the quality of direct marketing.


· Enhance consumer trust and choice.


· Increase the use of DM channels throughout all verticals.


· Expand awareness of the benefits of DM.


· Increase the share of revenue derived from direct marketing by companies that are not primarily DM businesses.


Steve Wynn, chairman of Wynn Resorts, will deliver the keynote after Greco. Wynn was chairman and CEO of Mirage Resorts Inc. for 27 years until its purchase by MGM in 2000. Other speakers include Jill Griffin, president of The Griffin Group, as well as noted authors and marketing experts Marcus Buckingham and Seth Godin.


Litle & Co. founder Tim Litle, catalog marketer Edward J. "Ted" Spiegel and Boardroom Inc. founder Martin "Marty" Edelston will be inducted into the DMA Hall of Fame during a lunch at 11:15 a.m. Oct. 18.


The DMA International Echo Awards have a new slot, moving from their traditional Sunday perch to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The ceremony will be hosted by comedian Wayne Brady, to be followed by a dance performance by Fire & Ice.


The exhibit hall opens at 4 p.m. Oct. 16 and closes at 6 p.m. Oct. 18. Conference sessions end at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 19. The featured pavilion at the conference will be the interactive pavilion in the exhibit hall.


Kristen Bremner covers list news, insert media, privacy and fundraising for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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