Merit Direct B2B Conference

I had the great fortune of being invited to the 9th annual Merit Direct B2B conference in Westchester, NY last week.  I got to leave the office and spend a couple of days thinking about how one should be running a business during times that are really not very good for the US economy.  Just to rub it in, while I was there, the RI Public Utilities Commission raised electricity rates 21.4%.  Ugh.

There were about 175 people there representing all sizes of B2B companies, all involved in direct mail.  Many of the subjects were similar to the topics that we discuss at NEMOA, but given the B2B focus of everyone in the room, the focus was a little different – and there were all kinds of new companies to meet.

Don Libey gave a great speech on day 2, focusing on the view from 35,000′ – or where he sees the catalog industry heading.  He was clear to point out that he sees no fall off in globalization.  Companies will get better at shipping internationally (because they have to) and trade will increasingly bypass the middle man.  As if to make the point, we lost an order for drug free ribbons to China today (our first ever), but we have a european supplier who wants us to ship ribbons directly to Finland – bypassing his warehouse in Sweden.

One observation I made is that there were few (if any) manufacturers in the room and that vertical markets are the exception rather than the rule.  Most companies were making less than 5% of what they sell.  Also most catalogs were broad shot amalgamations of products.  Carefully calculated to get the most shopping bang for the buck.  Does this work?  We tried it once and it didn’t work well at all.  All that means is that it doesn’t work for us.

A number of pleas were heard for catalogers to join the ACMA (American Catalog Mailer’s Association).  This little group has already saved the cataloging industry over $150,000,000 (that’s 150 million dollars folks) on postage through their lobbying efforts.  Please pay your share, and pony up some money to help with the lobbying efforts.  We did.

Rick

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2 thoughts on “Merit Direct B2B Conference

  1. Check their web site – http://www.catalogmailers.org for an explaination. Basically they are a lobbying group who is trying to develop some kind of rational response to the postage rate increases. Last year’s increase for catalogs (flats) was more than 20%. This kind of increase is not sustainable – for any catalogers, and already a number have changed their go to market strategy and cut back on mailings.

    Some may see this as a good thing (ie green), but I am not sure that I am saving the planet by driving to the mall to buy things instead of looking at catalogs which are delivered by my mailman, who is going to drive by my house every day anyway. We really need to look at the net benefit of that one before reaching a conclusion.

    It turns out that catalogers never had a voice of their own in Washington before the ACMA. Sure, you have the DMA, but they represent all kinds of direct mailers, not just catalogers so their interests and the interests of catalogers were not aligned.

    I hope this answers your question!

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