Reprinted from Strategies newsletter, 4th Quarter © December 2001 by First Marketing, 3300 Gateway Drive, Pompano Beach, FL 33069.

DMA 2001 — Back to business

Despite offers of free airfare or train fare, attendance at the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) 84th Annual Conference & Exhibition was down. But the exhibitors and attendees who made it to Chicago on October 28-31 took full advantage of all the speakers, sessions and synergy this premier event had to offer.

The conference kicked off with an opening keynote speech from former President George H. Bush. His address, titled “The View From The Top,” spanned current events, the global economy, personal anecdotes, and the importance of direct and interactive marketing.

President Bush expressed his affinity for the direct and interactive industry in his remarks. “How could anyone who has had the awesome privilege and responsibility to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, not have a keen appreciation of your industry? After all, can you think of anyone else who receives more ‘direct’ mail than the president of the United States?”

DMA President and CEO H. Robert Wientzen then set the stage for the conference, delivering a theme of unifying the industry and highlighting changes seen before and after the September 11 tragedy. Wientzen called on direct marketers to speak out on issues such as postal reform, privacy, remote sales tax and telemarketing before these issues affect the industry’s bottom line even more.

“With our nation in an economic downturn, as well as an obvious state of distraction, we cannot forget about the essential issues that affect the growth of our industry and of our country,” he said.

Beyond the keynotes, DMA attendees selected from 12 concurrent educational tracks. Sessions addressed everything from building long-term customer relationships and utilizing customer data to generating sales leads and integrating e-commerce initiatives into your overall media mix. Speakers representing a variety of industries shared insights, best practices and case studies. (See page two for an overview of one popular session.)

On the trade show floor, booth traffic was light. But, instead of complaining, exhibitors made good use of their time attending sessions and networking with other booth workers. And the attendees who walked the floor enjoyed unhurried quality time with exhibitors.

Then, of course, there were the over-the-top parties and the world-renowned Chicago restaurants. But that’s another story.

At the conclusion of the conference, there was an overall sentiment shared by attendees and exhibitors. After the events of recent weeks, it felt good to get back to business. And, at First Marketing, we’re looking forward to another successful DMA show next year in San Francisco. Hope to see you there.

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