Why are the Brits so insular?
Over the past 12 years, I’ve visited the U.S. Direct Marketing Association’s fall conference 10 times and have been amazed that so few Brits take the trouble to go. The first years were interesting but not hugely profitable for us, but as time went on we’ve established some great contacts with mailers from all over the world. Now 25 percent of our turnover comes from clients outside the UK – not a mean feat.
In the early ’90s, the U.S. brokers were being insular themselves but are now ahead of us Brits when it comes to forging international relations. Just take the UK events – most of our U.S. clients are willing to make the effort to fly across the water and spend some time catching up with us, discussing the latest industry challenges, etc. Our U.S. counterparts see the value in attending exhibitions in the UK, so why don’t we Brits see the value in going to U.S. events?
The U.S. DMA venues rotate among four cities. While the entry to the exhibition hall is pretty exorbitant, you don’t actually have to register for any of the workshops unless you really want to. As nearly all of the delegates (even the U.S. ones) fly in and stay in the hotels for four or five days, the networking opportunities outside the exhibition are immense.
Strangely enough, you also get a chance to spend some time with some fellow Brits – we’ve definitely increased our business as a result of rubbing shoulders with our fellow travelers.
This year the event is in New Orleans on Oct. 16-20. It would be great to see a few more UK brokers over there, so why not join the British invasion?
Mike Chantry, Managing director, Hilite Direct Marketing Services