Direct Marketing Trade Shows

April 21, 2008 at 10:14 pm 2 comments

Q: I’m new to the direct marketing industry, and have a direct marketing question for you.  I need to get up-to-speed asap. Can you recommend any trade shows that I should attend?

A: The primary industry association is the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). They hold an annual trade show that is very well attended (more than 5,000 attendees) in October of each year. This year it will be held on Oct 11-16 in Las Vegas. Here’s the thing about the conference–it is definitely a great place to network, but the education (in my opinion) is lacking. But, go for the networking–all of the key vendors to the industry will have a booth and (a side benefit) they host fun parties. We typically spend a full day just wandering the exhibit hall and learning about what is new and who’s offering, what.

In regards to education, if you’re truly brand new and really need to get the basics of direct marketing, then you may benefit from attending sessions. Just know, however, that many are ‘taught’ by the largest vendors (and DMA sponsors). Sadly, many haven’t figured out how to share information without it being a commercial for their company. And, after you’ve attended a few DMAs, the agenda will start to look a tad repetitive.

In regards to other trade shows, I would recommend looking for local happenings from the American Marketing Association (AMA). The AMA has many regional chapters, hence it’s easy to build your network with folks who live and work in the same area as you. And, if you’re ever looking for a new job, you’ll be happy that you’ve built this local network.

Lately, I’ve enjoyed attending e-marketing trade shows. I’ve seen excitement here that I haven’t enjoyed in other areas. Lots of good stuff happening in the world of social marketing and mobile marketing, and these shows are the places to really learn a lot.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. George Markham  |  April 22, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    I work at the DMA (although not on our trade shows) and agree that the annual conference is cetainly a good place to “get up to speed.” There are also a number of local DMA’s that hold various educational and networking events that are worth checking out. You can find them on the web. Finally, if your employer will fund professional development, the DMA has a large offering of courses. They’re not done by vendors, so you don’t have to worry about them being “commercials.” Good luck!

    Reply
  • 2. Suzanne Obermire  |  April 22, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    George, thanks for stopping by and giving us the DMA’s perspective. You are so right about the local organizations–good idea to check them out. And, yes, the DMA does have an extensive list of course offerings. Could be pricy for small businesses, but as George mentions, if your employer will fund them, I’m sure you’ll get a lot of great knowledge and education.
    Suzanne

    Reply

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