Last month, the Catalogs.com team packed up our offices and went Orlando or bust to attend the DMA’s: the Direct Mail Association’s Annual Conference for Catalog & Multi-channel Merchants. It wasn’t our first DMA excursion. In fact, not to brag, but I was a contributing panelist a couple of years back. It’s usually a fantastic experience offering opportunities to learn, grow, network and rub noses with thousands of future catalog clients as well as other internet professionals. That’s all it should have been, and more. In actuality, I regret to report, The DMA trip ended up being worse than a trip to the DMV.
We went through hours upon hours of prep including renting a van, filling it with swag, designing new brochures and schlepping 5 of our employees up north with us. Ultimately, the event ended up costing us $10,000 and then some. Little did we know we’d be faced with one giant detour once we got there.
Upon arrival at the convention center, we soon realized we were victims of the old switcheroo. Months earlier we had contracted for a specific prime booth location and lo and behold, we ended up in an isolated row off to the side with no other exhibitors and zero traffic. Nowhere land. It was the restaurant equivalent of the table in the back where you constantly get whacked by the swinging kitchen door. That’s right folks, we were the Thanksgiving kiddie table of the DMA’s.
We were misled, and felt taken advantage of. What good is having a contract, whether it be verbal or tangible, if it isn’t going to be upheld? We paid good money to be showcased and should have at the very least been notified of the change and given the opportunity to amend the situation. It’s all about ethics, isn’t it? After arguing with the guys in charge to no avail, we decided to take matters into our own hands. Sans permission, we ended up moving ourselves to a bigger, better location where we could re-join the land of the catalog living.
Business picked up, contacts were made, and we left with our heads held high, smiles on our faces, and a valuable lesson.
DMA conference fees - $10,000.00
New client revenue while stuck in nowhere land - $0.00
Standing your ground and refusing to give in – priceless.