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Direct Response Marketing

Field Reports June 2011

1 Jun, 2011 By: Thomas Haire, Doug McPherson, Bridget McCrea, Jackie Jones Response

Magic Johnson kicks of Response Expo 2011.

Magic Johnson Tip-Off Helps Response Expo Educational Sessions Raise the Bar

By Jackie Jones (

SAN DIEGO — Earvin "Magic" Johnson — basketball hall-of-famer, renowned entrepreneur and five-time NBA world champion during his career with the Los Angeles Lakers — kicked off Response Expo 2011 on May 3 with an entertaining, intimate and informative Keynote Address, sharing personal stories on both basketball and his entrepreneurial endeavors and stressing the importance of always putting the customer first.

Johnson’s presentation, which drew a record crowd of nearly 700 attendees, set the tone for the rest of Response Expo 2011.

"Response Expo was the ‘show of shows’ for the direct response industry. Bringing in Magic Johnson as the keynote was incredible and truly the most inspirational and exciting speaker the direct response industry has ever had," says Greg Sarnow, founder of the Direct Response Academy in Austin, Texas. "Everything from the educational sessions to the tradeshow floor and networking events was great, and the relaxed atmosphere gave our company an opportunity to really have significant dialogue with our clients and the many potential clients we met at the show."

Johnson kept the Keynote Address personal and intimate, stepping down from the stage and interacting directly with the crowd — often speaking one-on-one with various individuals. He shared his personal experience on turning a successful basketball career into an even more successful business one, and he made sure to always bring it back to what makes many companies — in direct response and beyond — successful: putting the customer first.

"My businesses are always about my customers, never about me," Johnson said during his presentation. "I want my businesses to win, and I want my partners to win, and you do that by thinking of your customers. We drive ROI first, and then the urban community wins as well because we put people to work."

Even amid his honest and heartfelt advice, Johnson kept the atmosphere lighthearted and upbeat, a recurring sentiment felt throughout the rest of the week at the both the Pre-Show Intensive (sponsored by Lockard & Wechsler), which provided high-level insights into the art and science of the pitch, and the educational sessions, which featured top DR marketers and corporate executives from companies such as Akoo Intl., BJ Global Direct, Your Baby Can LLC, Fitness IQ, State Farm Insurance, IdeaVillage Products Corp., Rosetta Stone, Aveda Corp., Nutrisystem and many more. All sessions drove home an emerging overall theme: When utilizing the available mediums in the right way, DR can do a lot more for your business than simply drive a sale.

"The lineup of speakers is great and inspirational and the topics are relevant," Marc Johnson of Direct Avenue said. "They offer guidance and tell you how to get where you need to go from the horse’s mouth."

"Another great event!" says David Savage, executive vice president of R2C Group and Cmedia. "I heard nothing but positive things about the venue, the education and the parties."

"I’m loving the conference, and there have been lots of great people to connect with and events to participate in," added Colleen Szot, president of Wonderful Writer, on-site in San Diego. "Business is great in this industry right now — I’m completely booked through July."

Expo Events Mix Business and Pleasure

By Jackie Jones (

SAN DIEGO —Response Expo’s series of six different networking events — five cocktail receptions and the Fourth Annual Golf Tournament — brought together huge crowds of veteran direct response executives and those new to the business for invaluable networking opportunities.

All-Access Badge holders mixed business and pleasure at the Opening Night Party, the Bayfront Celebration and the Closing Night Party at PETCO Park, as well as enjoyed a wine tasting presented by Venable, and celebrated Hawthorne Direct’s 25th anniversary at a Cinco de Mayo festival, featuring a tequila tasting and fun photo opp.

"The networking events were exceptional," said Dennis O’Hara, director of sales for New York-based Civolution Teletrax, a five-time Expo exhibitor. "I particularly enjoyed the Bayfront Celebration, and the keynote speaker (Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson) was the best I’ve ever seen at Response Expo."

Early risers kicked off Response Expo May 3 at the Fourth Annual Golf Tournament, where they basked in the beautiful 80-degree San Diego weather. That evening, guests headed to the Opening Night Party, still buzzing from excitement over Johnson’s speech.

All-Access Badge holders rounded out the second day of Response Expo with two different cocktail receptions, ending the evening with a bevy of opportunities for networking, catching up with old industry friends and connecting with new contacts. Attendees were first treated to a first-class wine tasting at the Taste of California Wine Reception, sponsored by Venable LLP, where they tasted a special selection of California’s finest wines and delectable hors d’oeuvres. Later in the evening, attendees enjoyed a beautiful San Diego backdrop as they networked the night away at the Bayfront Celebration. Both events were extensions of an already successful second day of Response Expo, guests said.

"This is my fourth year here, and I love it. I’m very impressed with the opportunities I’ve had to meet with new people and with the quality of the people I’m meeting — people who can make things happen," said Steve Newton of Newton Media Associates. "I’m doing business with these folks, and it’s a great venue to have these meetings."

Expo attendees capped off the three-day event with a tequila tasting presented by Hawthorne Direct, which hosted a Cinco de Mayo party in honor of the company’s 25th anniversary in business. The Expo closed with a private party at PETCO Park, which featured a batting cage, food and drinks, and a fireworks show over the ballpark.

"The 2011 Expo was the best Response yet for Hawthorne Direct," says Timothy Hawthorne, founder of Hawthorne Direct. "Our 25th anniversary Cinco de Mayo celebration hosted via the DRMA was a true success. We enjoyed all the support of friends, clients, competitors, colleagues and of course the Response team. We are appreciative of all the efforts behind the scenes in preparation and during the event. Thanks Response for an amazing conference."

"(Response Expo) is a special event filled with activities and educational opportunities," said Joe Schull of Washington, D.C.-based Venable. "Everyone has a good opportunity to be involved and find something interesting to learn about."

Good Traffic Keeps Expo Trade Show Floor Busy

By Jackie Jones (

SAN DIEGO — With 3,000 attendees, Response Expo’s show floor was the center of the action during the May 3-5 event at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, with exhibitors and visitors reporting high amounts of traffic and quality.

Attendees mixed and mingled for two different days in the Expo Hall, which featured a bevy of prominent booths including those of Thill Logistics, Icon Media Direct, Live Ops and BJ Global Direct, as well as the New Product Pavilion showcasing soon-to-be successes as well as top DR hits, including the Snuggie.

"Response Expo was unbelievable, with good traffic from both new and old customers and a lot of good opportunities to increase our business," said Dave Huter, Internet and marketing manager with exhibitor TTC Marketing Solutions. "I particularly liked the intimacy of the personal contact — it was just the right amount of people and a good mix of quality contacts."

"The show has been fantastic, and we are extremely pleased to take part for another year in Response Expo," Todd Thill said onsite. "The floor traffic and quality of the industry executives at this year’s show is beyond words," added the president and COO of Thill Logistics, whose booth again this year featured Dan Dunn’s PaintJam — an overwhelming favorite of the Expo Hall crowd.

The New Product Pavilion, located in the center of the tradeshow floor, saw a substantial amount of foot traffic, according to Curtis Kleinman, director of DR new business development at Swipe Payment Solutions, which sponsored the booth.

"The tradeshow floor has been absolutely amazing," Kleinman said onsite. "We’ve already seen tons of business-to-business partners come together that wouldn’t have had a chance to meet if it wasn’t for Response Expo’s ability to unite the DR industry’s elite."

"These shows are good because they allow me to meet in person the people I go up against every day. And while many of us are competitors here, we all really do work together toward a common cause: advancing the direct response industry," added Doug Garnett, president of Portland-based Atomic Direct and a member of the Response Editorial Advisory Board. "That balance we strike makes these shows a lot of fun and very useful."

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