Roll up, roll up! This year's Direct Marketing Fair is the biggest to date. Robin Cobb rides the merry-go-round of free seminars and samples the 300-plus exhibitors' wares
A record 300-plus exhibitors are at this year's London International Direct Marketing Fair to display and demonstrate their latest ideas, products and services. At Wembley Conference and Exhibition Centre this week, March 14-16, the fair also offers a free seminar programme, a conference and a high technology pavilion at which new developments will be put through their paces.
The seminars are daily at 9am (with coffee and croissants as well as direct marketing doyen John Frazer-Robinson's tips on cost-effective mailing), 1pm (Andrea Nierenberg on presentation skills, sales training and team-building) and 4.15pm (agency head Judith Donovan's clinic for smaller companies).
The conference, with registration fees from [pounds]30 to [pounds]225 per session, covers just about every aspect of direct marketing, including sessions on international campaigns.
Here is a sampling of the innovations to be found at the fair:
Telemarketing company Merit Direct introduces a revised edition of its Guide to Direct Response Television Advertising. Co-sponsored by BT, the new edition "reflects the latest thinking from a number of experts involved in different aspects of DRTV".
French company OBIMD was awarded the "best innovation" prize recently, at the Paris counterpart of the Direct Marketing Fair, for its Universal Mailing database management and mailing package. It explains this package at Wembley.
The system incorporates information from 180 countries on address formats, correct distribution codes, the alphabets of different languages, a database of 95,000 forenames for checking purposes, and civilities and personalisations used in different countries.
Mailing Preference Service gives details of the Telephone Preference Service, launched in January this year. Administered by MPS, the new preference scheme is the telemarketing equivalent of the Mailing Preference Service, and allows people who do not want unsolicited calls to have their numbers removed from lists.
Supported by OFTEL and the Data Protection Registrar, TPS is intended to ward off the threat of legislation from Westminster and Brussels which would restrict marketing by phone. Another element of self-regulation by the direct marketing industry is the List Warranty Register, also administered by MPS.
Mailcheck, a mail monitoring service, is being launched by Market Movements. This is a seed-list monitor enabling companies to discover whether and when direct mail items were delivered - and, presumably, whether their lists are being misused.
Clients add names and addresses supplied by Market Movements to their mailing lists and they then receive a report telling them when items were received, the postage method used and the condition in which the pack arrived.
Another new service is "Who's Mailing Who?", which offers continuous research data about direct mail targeting, mailing volumes and share of voice. Visitors to the stand will receive a free printout which lists and describes direct mail campaigns in their chosen area.
Its alternative international mailing services are explained by TNT Mailfast as "giving real value for money". The company handles some 300 million items a year worldwide. A reply service gives options of fully prepaid or a local reply facility, where the respondent pays only local postage.
There is a parallel parcel service, available in most European Union countries, including new members Austria, Finland and Sweden.
Brussels-based Moore-Lithorex has gone into partnership with New York's Media Affinity and Renewal Services to launch the latter's concepts of affinity marketing. Affinity groups are described as a "neglected asset" and it is claimed that a strategy has been created which allows clients "to earn substantial incremental profits in a new and interesting way". …