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1 May, 2013 By: Thomas Haire Response

Bob Knight at Response Expo 2013Knight’s Powerful Keynote Sets Tone for Educational Track

By Thomas Haire (

SAN DIEGO — College basketball coaching legend Bob Knight drew a crowd of more than 600 attendees to the Response Expo 2013 Keynote Address (presented by Havas Edge) on April 2 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. The coach of three NCAA title teams at Indiana University and the 1984 U.S. Olympic Gold Medal-winning squad, kicked off the Expo with a talk that included highlights from his recently released book, “The Power of Negative Thinking.”

“In my coaching career, the word that I felt most strongly about, was the word ‘no,’” Knight said, while riffing on how important it can be to remain even-keeled as a leader. He implored attendees to take more time to consider key moves, rather than just saying “yes” to please all involved, adding, “How long has it been since you would have said ‘no’ that would have enabled you to be better off?”

Greg Sarnow, leader of the Austin, Texas-based Direct Response Academy, said of the keynote, “This Expo started out with a bang and never stopped until it was over!”

The dry wit and wisdom present in Knight’s keynote set the tone for the week’s educational events, which actually began earlier that day with the Pre-Show Intensive (sponsored by Dial800), featuring a panel of six DR industry heavyweights moderated by Dial800 COO James Diorio.

The week’s educational sessions, which drew more than 600 attendees across 10 sessions on April 3-4, covered everything from Ivy League insight into retail assortment from Wharton Professor Dr. Barbara Kahn to tips of the trade from traditional big-name brands like Ameriprise, and the Direct Response Marketing Alliance’s 2012 Marketer of the Year Finalists themselves.

A new addition to the educational events was an April 4 panel made up of a number of the inductees to the brand new Direct Response Hall of Fame, which celebrated its inaugural induction event on the Expo Hall floor following the panel discussion. Six of the nine inductees were represented at the ceremony, while four — Jim Caldwell, Frank Cannella, Kevin Joseph Lyons and Joe Pedott — shared the wisdom of decades of success with a lucky group of attendees in the panel session.

“Response Expo is better each year,” said attendee Paul Mandel of OMT Financial Services in Knoxville, Tenn. “I came to the first one and have not missed one since. The cost is reasonable, the sessions are on-point, and the presenters are not the ‘same old story.’”

Added Steven Osinski, a marketing professor at nearby San Diego State University, “My students loved Response Expo, and I believe they learned far more than a thing or two.” Osinski brought nearly 50 of his upper-level marketing students to the event to learn more about direct response marketing.

Networking Events Are Wild and Funky From Start to Finish

SAN DIEGO — Response Expo’s series of seven networking events — five cocktail receptions, the Sixth Annual Golf Tournament and the brand new DR Hall of Fame induction ceremony — brought together everyone from the long-time direct response industry elite to the first-timers finding their way into the business.

This year’s events included even more opportunities to find new business and connect with DR friends while enjoying a cocktail or two, from Monday night’s Kick-Off Party all the way through to the Closing Night Party on Mission Beach at Wave House San Diego, which featured a fantastic performance from hip-hop legend Tone Loc.

“I was surprised at the many people new to our industry I met at the show,” said Greg Sarnow, leader of the Austin, Texas-based Direct Response Academy. “Year after year, Response Expo turns out to be the best show in the industry because of the atmosphere and style of the show, making it easy to have substantial conversations with vendors and marketers alike. I always leave the show with a group of leads that turn into clients.”

The Kick-off Party, hosted at Stingaree lounge in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter on April 1, started the week’s networking opportunities. It was the second annual “party before the show,” and led nicely into the next morning’s sold-out golf tournament, which featured breakfast, on-course beverages, fun and games at various holes, and an awards lunch. Golf attendees also showed off their charitable sides, kicking off the Expo’s push to promote Feeding America San Diego, which provides meals for those in need.

By the end of Response Expo, that drive had netted some amazing results. “With Response Expo’s help, we were able to raise $2,130,” said Lindsey King of Feeding America San Diego. According to the organization, this means that Response Expo and its attendees will provide nearly 13,000 meals to those facing hunger in the San Diego area.

Following the Keynote Address, All-Access Badge holders enjoyed the Opening Night Party in the Sapphire Foyer and Terrace of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. On April 3, attendees were first treated to a first-class time at the Venable Tiki Party, where they tasted a special selection of island-inspired drinks. Later in the evening, All-Access Badge holders enjoyed the Hilton’s brand new pool patio as they networked the night away at the Fire & Ice Bayfront Celebration, sponsored by IFS.

Expo attendees capped off the three-day event with a private party at Wave House San Diego (sponsored by TELEBrands), and a fun 30-minute show from Southern California-based rapper Tone Loc. “The Closing Night Party was a classic that will be hard to top!” says Mick Rispoli, president and CEO of El Cajon, Calif.-based APG.




Expo Hall Is Still the Center of the Storm

SAN DIEGO — With more than 3,000 attendees, Response Expo’s show floor was the center of the action during the April 2-4 event at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. Attendees mixed and mingled for two days in the Expo Hall, which featured a bevy of prominent booths including those of Thill Logistics, Dial800 and Icon Media Direct. For a third year, the New Product Pavilion showcased soon-to-be successes as well as top DR hits, while three networking lounges on or near the show floor helped fuel traffic.

“I am still following up on some great leads made at Response Expo this year,” said Justin Kilgore, business development leader for Evolve Teleservices. “I am so thrilled at what our involvement with DRMA has done for Evolve.”

The New Product Pavilion, located in the center of the tradeshow floor, saw a substantial amount of foot traffic, as did the Buzz Bar (presented by Marketsmith), which offered complimentary coffee and energy drinks to attendees.

And, just outside the Expo Hall on the Sapphire Patio, Manatt, McIntosh Productions, OrderMotion and West Direct sponsored the Beer and Wine Garden, which featured food for purchase, as well as complimentary beer and wine.

At the same time, the UIA Inventors’ Zone welcomed the creators behind more than 30 new products looking for one shot at DR success, driving plenty of visitors to their end of the Expo Hall.

“The show was a huge success for our agency, and we certainly appreciate everything the Expo staff did to set up the show and promote Marketing Maven Public Relations as a first-time exhibitor,” said Phil Rarick, vice president of sales and operations for the Southern California-based PR agency.

About the Author: Thomas Haire

Thomas Haire

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