Almost a centenarian, the Direct Marketing Association is moving quickly to reinvent itself in the smart device age. In this century, the trade association once synonymous with direct mail has evolved to focus on data — whether that data is used to optimize direct mail or any other channel — and most recently completely rebranded its annual conference to a symbol and four letters: “&THEN”
And then what? Basically, that’s the question this event will be answering, according to Lindsay Hutter, DMA’s SVP of communications. Last week, she told Target Marketing DMA had spent four months researching its “customers” to find out how the conference needed to change in order to respond to the unmet needs of three groups: “the loyals who always come to our annual meeting; the lapsed who used to; and the non-attends that don’t know DMA or our annual meeting.”
The conference’s show “floor” that is now called The Hub, educational content and approach, schedule and “overall experience” are different, aligning with the needs research participants told DMA they had, Hutter says.
“Customers” said they wanted a unified experience in a fragmented marketing world, where professionals with integrated strategies across channels could gather. Potential attendees wanted to be told where to spend their marketing dollars and they wanted applied knowledge. Rather than listening to another marketer talk about what worked for a particular brand, they want to have those results applied to their brands, Hutter says.
In other words, they want immediate results.
“Based on this research and a lot of disruptive creative thinking, analysis and design, DMA is laser-focused on bringing more applied learning, co-creation and an even higher level of marketing energy and insight to the new generation of data-driven marketers at our annual meeting and show,” she says.