DM Industry Upbeat on Coming Months

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NEW YORK -- Direct marketers at yesterday's DMD New York Conference & Expo were optimistic about the remaining months of the year but cautious about competition for profits.

Incremental growth has been elevating the industry to a more optimistic outlook, marketers said. However, they also described pressure from increased government regulation and growing price competition within the industry.

Regulations like the national no-call list are cutting into consumer files, said Fran Golub, senior vice president/list management at Walter Karl, Pearl River, NY. To stay competitive, list companies are overlaying their files with behavioral data and developing models to increase the values of their lists.

With less lists coming on the market, mailers have to look at nontraditional sources of data, including telemarketing and e-mail files. List professionals also have had to work harder to earn dollars, but list owners are getting good response rates on files and consumers are buying again.

"We've been battling for everything, but I think it's good," Golub said. "I see a lot of new accounts coming in."

The days of doubling business every year are long over, but Peachtree Data, Norcross, GA, has seen steady growth this year, said account manager Clint Farmer. A personnel expert who gave a talk at a DMD session predicted that employers would again be facing a hiring crunch in nine months, Farmer said.

"The first half of the year has been very good for us," he said. "Every indication I have is that it is going to continue to get better."

Exhibitors were satisfied with the floor traffic and this year's installment of the conference. Last year's show coincided with the Catalog Conference, hurting traffic at both. Apple's iPod was the incentive of choice this year as multiple exhibitors offered chances to win the popular digital music player.

"It seems like one of the hottest technological developments of the year," said Ron Goldberg, sales executive at commercial printing firm Banta, Menasha, WI, which was offering a chance to win an iPod at its booth. "Last year it was digital cameras."


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