DMA's annual conference adds b-to-b symposium

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The Direct Marketing Association's annual convention and expo, DMA 2011—which runs through Wednesday at the Boston Convention Center—adds a new segment in this year's programming: a dedicated track of sessions specific to b-to-b marketing. The new B-to-B Symposium, sponsored by BtoB and running today through Tuesday, offers sessions dedicated to b-to-b marketing initiatives, trends and case studies. The symposium sessions will be moderated by IBM Corp.'s Marketing Optimization Manager Pam Evans, a member of the conference's advisory committee and DMA's B2B Council. “In years past, we held a specific b-to-b conference annually but, as the economy retrenched, it became more challenging for people to attend,” Evans said. “This symposium is a result of a push from the ranks. It's meant to be a conference within a conference, addressing the unique needs of b-to-b marketers.” B-to-B Symposium sessions include:
  • Monday 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.: “Four Steps to Better Obtain and Nurture New B-to-B Relationships.” Topics include initiating customer conversations, using data to engage and stay connected and closing deals.
  • Monday 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.: “Winning the Zero Moment of Truth.” Using search queries, reviews, site visits, video views and other factors to determine whether a pros- pect picks one brand over another.
  • Tuesday 11:30 p.m. to 12:15 p.m.: “What Really Matters in B2B Marketing Today.” An overview of trends, technology, strategies and tactics.
  • Tuesday 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.: “Marketing and Sales Performance.” Leveraging digital media and interactive marketing technology to attract, engage and retain customers.
  • Also, DMA's B2B Council breakfast meeting will be held Tuesday at 8:45 a.m. In addition to addressing specific b-to-b marketing needs, the council will present its b-to-b marketer of the year award to Cindy Humphrey, VP-product and marketing at telecommunications company CenturyLink Business. “Pam Evans was adamant that we needed to double-down on providing education specific to b-to-b at the national show,” said Paul McDonnough, DMA's group show director. “Within the reams of tracks we have at the show, there are sessions that address b-to-b issues, but there is a population that has demanded more.” BtoB Publisher Bob Felsenthal said the special symposium at this year's DMA conference offers a means for b-to-b marketing to achieve a measure of attention it might not ordinarily get at such a large show. “While there are always similarities between consumer- and business-oriented marketing, b-to-b marketers grapple daily with specific database challenges, long sales cycles, dealing with multiple decision-makers and the inexorable shift to digital channels,” Felsenthal said. “We felt that by sponsoring this symposium, we can provide a closer examination of those needs, along with a powerful overview of trends and case studies,” he said. While DMA does label some of its sessions as containing b-to-b content, they are sparse. Out of the 100 sessions in the main block of educational offerings, only five are labeled with a “B2B Focus” icon as being most appropriate for b-to-b marketers. Other sessions, such as email, direct mail, search and social marketing, may contain topics of b-to-b interest as well.
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