CHICAGO–The Chicago Association of Direct Marketing’s 52nd annual DM Days & Expo at the Navy Pier attracted its old faithfuls yesterday: 1,200 direct marketers from the traditional and interactive side, plus 300 from the more than 45 exhibiting companies.
The theme of this year’s event was “Shift.” The conference handbook showed a stick-shift on the cover, with “Shift” emblazoned below. Four key thoughts stressed the areas of focus: gears, perceptions, direction and expectation.
“The whole idea is gear shift,” said Jay Weinberg, president of loyalty and database consultancy Jay Group and chair of this year’s DM Days. “This is about taking it to the next level. It’s not a paradigm shift. It’s not anticipating. It’s reacting, it’s taking action. The customer’s in control now, globalization has taken place, the Internet is now entering maturity. All of these paradigms have shifted, so we need to step it up.”
Shifting gears is about taking it from first and second, second to third and taking it to the next step, he said. Perceptions is about realizing the world has changed. Direct refers to the fact that companies need to expand beyond where they are now. And expectations requires them to step it up.
The theme is reflected in the sessions, too.
“We’re trying to put it in the sessions and the keynotes to enable people to think differently,” Weinberg said. “From a session standpoint we have the latest marketing techniques in niche areas such as word of mouth. We have keyword search marketing — that’s not so new — but people really need to understand this. We’re really trying to move into that interactive area and away from traditional direct marketing. There really is no more traditional direct marketing. If you’re not interactive, you’re still in first gear.”
Weinberg is seeing a lot of integration and consolidation.
“The Midwest is a big area for the agencies and print/production capability,” he said. “On the agency side, they’re really scrambling to keep up with the latest in integrated marketing, for example, search engine marketing capabilities. From a print standpoint, I’m seeing a lot more services offered by a fewer players. Printers are offering more database, list management and lettershop capabilities. So in a nutshell we’re seeing competition increasing tremendously.”