'Wannabe Googles' Not at DMDNY

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NEW YORK -- Direct marketers could safely walk the red carpet yesterday at the 40th Annual DM Days New York Conference & Expo's exhibit hall without encountering much evidence of the Internet.


The few companies that offered online marketing solutions were part of established players in categories like list brokerage and management, database marketing, service bureau, fulfillment, lettershop, printing, teleservices and envelope manufacturing. Likewise, the conference opened yesterday morning with a proclamation from New York Gov. George Pataki declaring it "Direct Marketing Week" in New York for the first time.


The gaggle of wannabe Googles was missing from the exhibit floor.


Instead, there were companies like NeuStar Inc., a first-time exhibitor at the show. The Sterling, VA, firm developed its subscription-based wireless do-not-call service to help telemarketers identify which numbers have been ported from fixed-line connection to wireless.


"I'm here to educate and keep companies that are doing outbound telemarketing compliant with the laws of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act," said Lisa Turner, TCPA compliance manager at NeuStar.


Using NeuStar's service, companies can avoid calling numbers that have been restricted from receiving unwanted telephone calls through autodialers, artificial voices or prerecorded scripts.


Telemarketers have a 15-day grace period in calling a phone number that has been ported from a fixed line to a wireless service. This is provided the number isn't already on the national do-not-call registry or a company-specific no-call list.


NeuStar turned to the premier direct marketing show in New York to ratchet up awareness for its service.


"We just want more exposure," Turner said. "There's not enough knowledge. People don't understand too much about wireless do not call. An $11,000 fine could potentially put a small mom-and-pop out of business."


Bind-it Corp., a maker of desktop binding products, is another first-timer at DM Days New York. The Hauppauge, NY, firm is targeting companies looking for more personalization features like logos and names as well as binders, index sets and folders in business proposal documents.


The binding firm is also aware of a gathering trend based on business from its eight offices nationwide.


"The amount of pages in proposals has gone down," said Matthew Caleco, branch manager at Bind-it. "It's not so much fluff anymore. It's 'This is what it's going to cost and a little bit of what it includes.' "


Don't tell CNN's Lou Dobbs -- who often features segments dealing with the loss of U.S. jobs -- that Epixtar International Contact Center Group took a booth at the show. The self-styled offshore teleservices provider opens a new 1,200-seat, English-language call center in the Philippines next month. This is its fifth in that country.


Epixtar targets financial services firms as well as newspaper and magazine publishers for its call centers that dial the United States. The Miami company now is starting to look at another up-and-coming business: motivational tapes and their sale over the telephone.


Meanwhile, Knowledgebase Marketing president/CEO Gary S. Laben said companies are putting more emphasis on analytics first instead of as a value-add. A key reason for this, he said, is because clients are "much more sophisticated," adding that they understand how insights gleaned from applying analytics are a key element to sophisticated, targeted direct mail campaigns.


Michael King, group vice president and creative director at Grizzard Performance Group, Atlanta, spoke about the rise in qualitative data used in direct marketing research.


"Direct marketers are pulling back and getting a macro view of their customers," King said, adding that his company regularly conducts focus groups, one-on-one interviews and "coffee talks" with small groups of customers at a local Starbucks on behalf of his clients. "As direct marketers, we are very tactical. From a strategic standpoint, you can gain a lot of insight from sitting down with eight to 10 people over a latte."


Because of the national no-call registry, King said he has seen an increase in direct mail being used for customer acquisition campaigns and more e-mail messaging for customer retention. He also has noticed a rise in business-to-business paper-based direct mail, even though the DNC legislation doesn't affect this segment.


"BTB seems to be following [business-to-consumer] trends," he said.


Senior Editor Melissa Campanelli contributed to this report.


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