ATLANTA — DMAo05 is full of surprises — new logo, new house journal, new conference agenda and, hopefully, new attitude — but Carol Meyers was unprepared for this one.
“What shocked me was how big it was,” said Meyers, vice president of worldwide marketing for marketing software firm Unica, Waltham, MA. She was referring to the conference exhibit hall at the Georgia World Congress Center. “This hall is massive. I’ve been coming to the DMA’s annual show for six years, and this just seems to be the biggest yet. I don’t know what the attendance is, but I was a little overwhelmed.”
She didn’t attend the general keynote session yesterday morning, but DMA president/CEO John A. Greco Jr. claimed more than 10,000 attended. We’ll take his word for it since the DMA declines to share attendance numbers with the media.
Meyers found the attendance to her satisfaction.
“Traffic’s been good,” she said. “It’s not a mad rush. Because sometimes at the DMA shows there are so many vendors that I think the attendees have so many people to visit that it takes them awhile to get through.
“As for people, it’s quite a mix,” she said. “Definitely decision makers. I saw a chief marketing officer for one company. They’re interested in learning new things, and they’re interested in making a difference in their companies.”
Unica would love the attention. The company recently expanded into Japan, offering its campaign management and event-triggered marketing tools to agency Dentsu ISID. Unica also opened a office in Munich, Germany, offering campaign management and e-mail marketing software to clients Commerzbank and Vodafone D2.
Back home, Unica works with major brands like Best Buy, Intuit and Tribune Co. She is noticing several new industries like automotive, publishing and, to some degree, consumer packaged goods show interest in how software can help engage customers and prospects more effectively. But perception problems persist.
“I think the biggest hurdle is still a lack of broad awareness of marketing software,” she said. “If you talk about sales force automation with the head of sales, they immediately know what you’re talking about. Among the marketing leadership there isn’t as much broad awareness for what kinds of marketing technology there are to help them.”
So that’s why she’s happy with the DMA’s rearrangement of its conference agenda and exhibit hall layout. Another plus is Unica CEO Yuchun Lee’s nomination to the DMA board of directors for 2006.
“I think the DMA has done a good job of integrating the Internet and e-marketing,” Meyers said. “They’ve got great vendor representation and it’s well-covered in the agenda of the conference. And it’s very critical because marketers are trying to take a more integrated approach.
“Many of the tried-and-true strategies used in database marketing apply to the Internet,” she said, “and direct marketers can be open to new things at a much faster pace — real time — with exposure to Internet strategies and tactics.”
Other exhibitors were pleased with the show, too.
“It’s been crazy this morning. We must have had 200 people in the first hour,” said Scott Morrison, executive vice president of marketing agency Fulcrum.
“We have been getting lots of traffic and great leads. In Atlanta, when people come to the convention center, they stay here,” said Judy Kalus, product manager of trackmymail.com, Gaithersburg, MD. “There is no place else for them to go in the area. There aren’t as many distractions.”