DMDNY Serves Up Postmaster General, Founder of Priceline.com

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This year's Direct Marketing Days in New York conference, which opens today at the Hilton New York & Towers, promises to provide a well-rounded education for anyone whose livelihood is connected with the direct marketing industry.


With keynote speakers ranging from the man who presides over the nation's mail-delivery system to an entrepreneur who made a fortune taking his direct marketing skills to the Internet, DMDNY attendees will get a four-day tutorial on the art of profiting from marketing directly to individuals.


This year's DMDNY, the 34th in the series, is expected to be 10 percent larger than any previous New York show, said DMDNY president Charles Cavanagh. More than 380 exhibitors and 5,500 attendees from 30 different countries are expected.


Taking a cue from the industry it serves, DMDNY sent some successful direct mailings to help increase attendance at the show, Cavanagh said. In addition, after a scheduling conflict last year that overlapped DMDNY with the Annual Catalog Conference & Exhibition, which draws many of the same merchants and marketers each spring, the two groups compared calendars and made sure the shows wouldn't overlap this year or for several years hence. As an extra step to help exhibitors make a smooth transition between the events, the common show decorator at both exhibitions is transporting booths from show to show.


DMDNY opens today with a collection of all-day workshops covering the gamut of direct marketing's core disciplines, followed by three full days of breakout sessions and exhibits. A series of workshops focusing on the Internet occupies a large chunk of the schedule, with 16 different sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Sessions focusing on putting together good creative pieces, on database marketing, International and non-profit direct marketing also make up significant portions of the schedule.


On Wednesday, an "Ask the Expert" collection of roundtable-style consultation centers will be presented from 7:45 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. Topics for the 20 sessions range from privacy to telephone marketing to tapping the Internet.


"We've really expanded our programming tremendously, to feed all the areas of interest we've had in the past," Cavanagh said.


Among the keynote speakers is 1999 DMDNY Direct Marketer of the Year Jay Walker, vice chairman and founder of Priceline.com, who will address attendees at Wednesday's awards luncheon. He'll be joined at that time by former Sen. Bill Bradley, who is seeking the Democratic presidential bid.


Another keynote that promises to be well attended is that of Postmaster General William J. Henderson, who speaks at Tuesday's luncheon.


"It's his first major address since getting into the top office," Cavanagh said, adding that Henderson "will talk a little about the future and about technology."


Also among his topics will be some announcements about Expedited Packaging Service, a new tracking system from the postal service Cavanagh said could make it more competitive against such firms at Federal Express and United Parcel Service.


Other keynote presenters include Larry Light, president and CEO of Arcature LLC, a management-consulting firm, who speaks at 9 a.m. Tuesday after a welcome by 1999 DMDNY chairman Howard Draft, chairman/CEO of DraftWorldwide. Also on Tuesday, political satirist Mark Russell promises to serve up a little levity during the noontime luncheon. On Thursday, Tom Gardner, co-founder of "The Motley Fool," will launch the show's last day with some investment advice.


"We've got some of the biggest names in the industry and from outside the industry," Cavanagh said. "This will certainly be the biggest we've ever had, and we've gotten a lot of positive reaction from people who have seen the program."
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