MeritDirect Conference Stresses Traditional DM

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STAMFORD, CT -- Although MeritDirect's first business mailers' conference last week was called a Co-op and E-com Marketing Conference, traditional direct mail emerged as the clear favorite among speakers.


"E-commerce is an adjunct to cataloging; it's the basic cataloging that's causing it to work," said keynote speaker Donald R. Libey, president of Libey-Concordia, Haddon Heights, NJ, an investment banking firm specializing in the catalog industry.


Libey cheered a return to old-fashioned direct mail prospecting and cited the failure of several dot-coms as the catalyst for this trend.


In a session called E-com Town Hall, panelists cited several shortcomings of e-mail marketing. The list included lack of merge/purge capabilities and limited selectivity on e-mail lists.


Panelists, including Geoff C. Walker, CEO of PetFoodDirect.com, Montgomeryville, PA, advocated the use of e-mail along with common-sense direct mail marketing.


Neil Sexton, founder of Sexton Marketing, Trinidad, CO, delivered a luncheon address called Straddling the Bricks and Clicks.


Sexton likened the relationship between traditional direct marketing and the Internet to a swinging pendulum. "Right now, it's not cool to be a dot-com," he said.


He recommended that mailers straddle the issue with one foot planted firmly on each side and wait to see what happens next.


"Keep your knees bent, and you will have a solid base, making it hard for anyone to knock you down," Sexton said.


Despite drawbacks the Internet may have, attendees and speakers agreed that direct marketers must have a presence on the Web. The launch of MeritDirect's new Web site coincided with the conference.

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