Taking heed of what the Direct Marketing Association did at its annual show last year as well as what a number of other associations are doing with their conferences, the organizers of Direct Marketing Days New York have implemented a number of firsts for this year's show in an effort to make it more interactive and easier for attendees and exhibitors to get around.
Like most everything else nowadays the 35th Annual DMDNY Conference will have a strong Internet presence. In fact, the theme for this year's show is “Direct Marketing: the Key to Success in E-Commerce.”
Arthur Blumenfield, a member of the board at DMDNY, said he wants this year's show to serve as a meeting place between old-school direct marketers and young Internet start-ups. He believes that by looking at several of the e-commerce sites out there today, it is obvious that these companies need to learn more about direct marketing. And he said that those traditional bricks-and-mortar companies looking to expand their businesses to the Web could learn a lot about what needs to be done from the dot-com companies.
“What's obvious is that these two groups need each other,” Blumenfield said. “What we want to do is to serve as a medium where the two can come together and give each other what they need.”
Blumenfield said as the world of direct marketing changes and becomes more Web-based, the annual DMDNY show will change as well to better serve those in the industry.
“As the marketplace evolves, so shall we,” he said. “We are not going to be a stick in the mud, and we are going to be where the marketplace wants and needs us to be.”
To make as much room as possible, this year DMDNY has expanded the exhibit floor space to make room for 450 booths. In the past, the number of exhibitors peaked at 375.
“By doing this, we also help get everybody out into the open,” he said. “In the past, we have had some of those late registrants kind of in the back and out of the way. There are still going to be people around the corners that you will have to look for, but the floor is going to be a lot more open this year.”
There is a waiting list of eight to 12 companies hoping to get exhibit space.
Blumenfield said he expects close to the same number of attendees as last year, 5,000 to 6,000. He said that number can always go up at the last minute as a result of people showing up at the conference, looking to get in.
To help attendees and exhibitors find out what is going on each day, access e-mail and locate products and specific booths, DMDNY will implement a cyber-cafe and 12 e-product locators for this year's conference.
“These product locators will allow people to type in what exactly they are looking for or what they think will best help them and their company,” Blumenfield said. “And they will be given the exhibit floor location of the companies that can best help them.”
For the first time, the conference will also use an e-registration system. Attendees will receive a card similar in size to that of a credit card along with their normal identification badge. These cards will have an electromagnetic strip that can be slid through a device at an exhibitor's booth. By doing so, an attendee's contact information will be stored directly into a database, thereby eliminating the ritual of exchanging paper business cards.
The swiping device is optional for exhibitors, but Blumenfield said many companies have ordered them.
Features of this year's show include 180 speakers, 100 sessions and seven keynote speakers, including Jan Brandt, president of marketing at America Online, Dulles, VA, who was named DMDNY 2000 Direct Marketer of the Year. He will be speak at the Wednesday luncheon. Other keynote speakers include Seth Godin, chief “zoomer” at Do You Zoom, on Thursday morning, and ABC News correspondent and former presidential adviser George Stephanopoulos at Thursday's luncheon.
Activities get under way today, when six preconference workshops will take place. Among them will be Basics of Direct Marketing, E-Commerce/Internet and Integrated Marketing.