DMI Co-op Gets Back to Its Roots

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WHITE PLAINS, NY - The 32nd annual Direct Media Client Conference and Co-op got under way here yesterday with a throwback to the early days of the event and DMI itself.

"People around our company have often talked about how when this event started 32 years ago it was [DMI chairman/founder] Dave Florence inviting ten or 15 or 20 of his clients to get together in a hotel meeting room and talk for a day," said Larry May, CEO of Direct Media Inc., Greenwich, CT, in an interview with DM News. "In the beginning it was entirely business-to-business and the attendees were entrepreneurs, owners and the people who were making all the day-to-day decisions. Sometimes people say it would be great to get back to that."

In response to those reminisces, the 2006 DMI Co-op kicked off with five private lunch meetings, one each for clients in the BTB, catalog, circulation, continuity and fund-raising markets. A client was selected to head each meeting and attendance was by invitation only, Mr. May said.

"It was a chance for them to sit and have lunch and toss around ideas and anecdotes in a non-public setting," Mr. May said.

Still, the co-op in its present form offers more than that. This year's event has sessions pertinent to each of the market segments as well.

"Direct Media is involved in each of the major areas of the direct marketing business, and we tried to provide something for everybody and keep it all at a really high level," Mr. May said.

Session topics include consumer, cooperative databases, BTB, publishing, e-commerce and fund raising. Mr. May touted today's opening panel on multichannel marketing.

The multichannel issue has been for me personally one of the things that I've been most interested in over the last few years," he said. "It's a really major challenge for marketers to track the various ways they're doing business with their customers. A couple of years ago it was a fairly common answer when I'd ask how clients match back their Web business to know if they contacted those people through the mail or how they were actually reaching them to discover that they weren't doing much matching back at all."

While he said that has gotten better, there is room for improvement.

Look for a write up of the multichannel session in the May 1 print edition of DM News.

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