CHICAGO–Veteran direct marketer Joel E. Book was inspired by the Chicago DM Days & Expo session agenda at the picturesque Navy Pier.
The emphasis on traditional direct marketing channels working with new interactive efforts is what caught the attention of this director of e-marketing strategy at e-mail firm ExactTarget Inc., Indianapolis.
“What we’re seeing in this conference is that people now understand that the Web has become the epicenter of marketing,” Book said. “Indirect channels such as search, banner ads, print and broadcast, even PR, are attracting people to the Web where there’s a smooth hand-off to digital direct marketing channels such as e-mail.”
Though the show’s attendance was nowhere near the Chicago DM Days’ peak a few years ago, the emphasis on integrating traditional DM tactics with interactive did attract younger attendees to sessions. This year’s show content focused on basic DM, business-to-business, CRM/database, direct response broadcast, interactive, lists/database and multichannel. Interactive marketing’s influence or need for integration with other ploys was a common thread through many sessions.
One of the delegates at this event organized by the Chicago Association of Direct Marketing was Ann Ertsas, director of marketing and public relations at database giant Bacon’s Information, Chicago.
“I think it’s a nice show, not too overwhelming,” Ertsas said. “The education sessions are usually good and relevant to how they touch on new trends. From a marketing standpoint, some might be basic, but there’s some for all. For the really, really experienced people, they might need to have some more advanced sessions. Otherwise, they’re pretty well-covered. They’re well organized. Good networking opportunities.”
Gustavo Gruber, business development manager for emerging markets at printer and supply chain manager Banta Direct Marketing Group, Oak Brook, IL, is a champion of ethnic marketing at CADM. He’s also a veteran of several DM shows, including the CADMs. This year’s speaker roster impressed him.
“Normally it used to be that people from Chicago would have to go New York or a national DMA show, but the information they get here is topnotch,” Gruber said. “They’re expanding into the emerging markets track, which provides very timely best practices, not only in the multicultural, but also the Asian and senior citizen markets.”
Did he notice any changes in the exhibition hall layout? The booths did seem a more densely packed.
“It’s a lot more warmer,” Gruber said. “I see more traffic. There’s a main session planned here and it’s getting more traffic. They’re doing a great job of getting people for the sessions to the exhibit area, which is what it’s all about.”
Others like consultant Jeff Molander had a different perspective. He also is a veteran of several direct and interactive shows, given his focus on affiliate marketing. He noticed Q Interactive CEO Matt Moog was keynote speaker yesterday, which said something about the shifting trends.
“I see that the interactive element of direct marketing was featured in the keynote,” Molander said. “But I’m wondering where the local interactive crowd is in the exhibit hall.”
It is easy to forgive their absence. Most of the 45-plus companies focused on the traditional end of the DM business, albeit with growing interactive units. In fact, the exhibitor list included industry heavyweights like AccuData America, Alterian, Banta, Canada Post, Cenveo, Consolidated Graphics, Federal Envelope Co., infoUSA’s Sales Genie, Japs-Olson Co., Mackay Envelope Co., Moore Wallace Response Marketing Services, Real Latino Images, SPSS, Tribune Direct Marketing, Vertis and ZipSort.
Ben Mangan is president of Mangan Communications Inc., a Davenport, IA-based publisher of OSHA and DOT regulations materials using RegLogic training content. He was a DM Days attendee in the late 1980s and part of the late ’90s. He returned in 2003 to glean more ideas for his firm.
“This used to be a huge show,” Mangan said. “I don’t know why, but at this show there’s not a lot of different vendors here. This year I came because I was interested in digital printing. I got a few sources. Last time I was here there was more. I’m afraid next year there won’t be so many vendors.”