Merit Direct Business Mailers Conference

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I attended Merit Direct's business mailer's co-op in my old stomping grounds of White Plains, NY last week, and I think the event was an informative and worthwhile one.

Ralph Drybrough, CEO of Merit Direct, said it was the largest event in the conference's 17-year existence, with 250 marketing executives from 100 client companies attending.

"I have noted that while the speakers, topics and the opportunity to mingle with peers are high on the list of reasons clients attend, the numbers are always a bit more robust during difficult economic times and times of uncertainty," Drybrough observed "Last year was almost as well attended as this year because of the concerns catalogers had about the May 2007 postal rate increase. And this year, general economic conditions have cast some shadows."

Drybrough believes the opportunity for b-to-b to come together and talk about ways to overcome the uncertain economic time is a main reason why the conference, which is free of charge, is well attended in times like these.

Of course, the speakers play a role in that as well. This year's event featured several noteworthy speakers, including Hamilton Davison, president of the American Catalog Mailers Association. He discussed the USPS transitioning to managing mail quality, rather than volume. Davis said the USPS could become a much smaller organization, and concentrate more on mailing mail that is "really wanted" which could affect catalogers.

Terry Jukes, founder and president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence Inc., and Don Libey, principal of Libey Incorporated, gave the keynote addresses on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

There were also some interesting polls taken. Drybrough reports that in answer to the question, “Is your company a member of the American Catalog Mailers Association?” Thirty-two percent said yes, 48% said no while 8% said they would join soon and 3% said never.

Barack Obama defeated John McCain in a straw poll of conference attendees by 63% to 37%.

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