DMers set sail for San Francisco

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Delegates, exhibitors and speakers are looking forward to DMA•06, the Direct Marketing Association's annual conference and exhibition, set for Oct. 14-19 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.

DMA•06 features more than 100 educational sessions, and its exhibit hall will house more than 500 exhibiting companies.

"I have attended the DMA annual show for over 19 years," said Larry Chaido, president of TransGlobal Consultants Inc., Canton, OH, who will be attending as a delegate. "As the direct mailing industry and electronic community have changed, this conference has also changed to become more of value to the membership and those attending this conference."

However, Mr. Chaido, whose company consults for businesses on international postal issues, said that as the show grows, so do his expectations.

"Since the DMA is now under the leadership of a new president - and there is a new conference manager and many changes within the structure of the DMA - I'm looking forward to seeing how these changes will benefit those attending this conference as both delegates and exhibitors," he said.

Some exhibitors are also eager for the show.

"We are launching a new product in a new category, and our marketing challenge is getting people to see it," said Chris Jeffers, CEO of netFactor, a business-to-business interactive marketing services provider in Littleton, CO.

Sheryl Friedman, vice president of marketing at Vertis Communications, Baltimore, said direct marketing remains one of the most powerful media and that as a result, "DMA•06 presents opportunities to share the latest trends, ideas and innovations. The industry's leaders are there to review research and brainstorm. We expect to connect with colleagues, clients, prospects and friends."

Other companies are expanding their presence. Database marketing firm Cohorts, Denver, is featuring a new 10-by-20-foot booth, larger than the company's previous 10-by-10-foot booth.

"2006 has been a terrific year for us," said Scott Schroeder, president/CEO of Cohorts. "We've grown our business and wanted to reflect that growth in the presence we have at this important marketing show."

Others offer unique opportunities at their booths. Worldata (www.worldata.com), a Boca Raton, FL, direct and interactive marketing list organization, will take photos of attendees at its booth and put their faces on the cover of six magazines the company represents: Inc., Fast Company, Blender, Sporting News, In Touch Weekly and OK. Attendees can take the photo home in a frame.

Teramedia Corp., an Orlando, FL, list firm, wants marketers to experience the power of cross-channel list marketing, and that is why it will treat one marketer to 100,000 names from any list it manages, complete with all channels and free selections. Marketers can call 407/420-1108 to register for a chance to win, or register at Teramedia's DMA•06 booth. The winner will be selected at DMA•06 during the show, but does not have to be present to win.

Mr. Chaido had additional concerns with the show. He said he has examined the DMA•06 program guide and found that U.S. Postal Service issues, such as postal reform and the current rate case, have not been addressed.

"As we all know, the USPS has announced over 96 pages of changes to their regulations taking place during the May 2007 period," he said. "Many of these changes will affect how we as direct marketers ... [make] use of domestic distribution methods. These issues have not been addressed as I can determine from the program book. Since this is an issue that affects us all as marketers, I do hope that the session speakers will address these issues and how to maintain our response levels as well as reducing costs."

Jim Treis, executive vice president of sales and marketing for catalog printer Arandell Corp., Menomonee Falls, WI, agreed.

"There are critical issues that require education, especially with what's going on with the post office," he said. "If you go through the brochure the DMA sends you about the show, you can't find these issues anywhere."

Mr. Treis said his firm is going to San Francisco to meet privately with catalogers.

"We used to exhibit at the DMA Annual," he said. "It is just not cost-effective anymore because the catalog attendees don't show up for it. Today, people are looking for what can they bring home [from a conference]. There just isn't that much in regards to catalog. It used to be one of our biggest shows. We haven't exhibited in four years."

Mr. Chaido also said that for several years there has been a lack of international information at the conference.

"The DMA does have an international area in the exhibit hall to showcase vendors that will aid U.S. direct marketing companies in their cross-border marketing efforts," he said. "However, there are only four sessions of the 140 sessions that address this topic. Given the ever-changing global economy, potential for new clients, revenue and profits, I would like to see an increase in the international offerings."

DM News reporters Giselle Abramovich, Dianna Dilworth, Chantal Todé and Cara Wood contributed to this report.

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