May 2008 : Keynote

Retailers Rock and ERA Is Playing Your Tune


The ERA 18th Annual Convention and Expo-September 21-23, 2008 in Las Vegas-is shaping up to be a true showstopper. The convention is the direct-to-consumer industry’s premier event for trend-setting education, pertinent tradeshow exhibitors, hot products, beneficial networking events consisting of new and well-known attendees, and a guaranteed opportunity to increase your sales.

Join ERA’s Leadership and PAC supporters on Sunday at the ultra exclusive Foundation Room at the House of Blues for our Las Vegas Leadership event. If you are not familiar with this venue, it is a private room overlooking the glittering lights of Las Vegas from high atop the Mandalay Bay Hotel. We have the dining room and the patio and will serve a dinner buffet. The entertainment will be a jazz trio to allow for conversation. ERA will provide round-trip transportation from the Paris Hotel. This event raises funds for ERA’s extremely critical legislative efforts on Capitol Hill. A personal donation of $250 is required to attend. For more information on ERA’s government affairs, contact Bill McClellan at [email protected].

Highlights continue on Monday, September 22, at the opening General Session. ERA is pleased to present the CEO of, Raul Vasquez, who will share’s multichannel strategies, including use of social media to attract new consumers and to build synergy among its selling channels. In 2006, Wal-Mart announced the launch of the new and improved, which proved to be one of the most dramatic, all-encompassing site redesigns in the online retail industry within the last several years. Vasquez, who was named president and CEO of in March 2007, has oversight of all day-to-day operations and focuses on further integration of online and in-store capabilities that provide multichannel options for customers, as well as expanding the site’s overall merchandise assortment and product information. He served as chief marketing officer of USA, LLC, until February 15, 2007. Raul’s vision is that, “ is out to be the most visited, most valued online retail site.” Indeed, with the addition of customer reviews in July, is now reporting that 80,000 reviews have been posted to date, with shoppers adding about 1,000 reviews every day. The Internet is full of stories about Wal-Mart’s missteps in social media, but they appear to be committed to making it work for their brand, and as a result, they have seen enormous success. Interviewing Raul will be Bill Maher.

Bill Maher, as many know, is the host of “Real Time with Bill Maher.” The program has received multiple Emmy nominations, as well as nominations from the Writers’ Guild of America and Producers’ Guild of America. Some of the outstanding guests who have appeared on the show include George Clooney, Howard Dean, Robin Williams, Gen. Wesley Clark, Pat Buchanan, Ben Affleck, John Edwards and George Carlin. In addition, Maher has authored a book, “New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer.” He received a Tony nomination for the three-week run of his one-man Broadway show, “Victory Begins at Home.” An English major graduate from Cornell University, Maher was born in New York and raised in River Vale, N.J. He now resides in Los Angeles.

Bookending the General Session will be two Master Classes, both designed to offer direct response practitioners the tools and solutions needed to augment sales and increase lead generation. The classes will be “New Media Case Studies” and “Perfect Your Business Model: Multichannel Distribution.” The day will conclude with a spectacular Welcome Reception located poolside under the lights of the Vegas Strip! This perennial favorite is the place to reconnect with acquaintances made earlier in the day, and catch up with long-time business colleagues.

A new feature this year is the ERA Accreditation Program, which offers eight tracks of education covering all segments of the direct response industry and which will serve to increase consumer confidence, business value and standards for direct-to-consumer retailers and their suppliers. The faculty, consisting of experts from ERA’s membership, will present sessions covering core competencies. There is compelling research that demonstrates that professionals who obtain certification produce positive effects on service quality, service outcomes and company revenues. Individuals that wish to become certified will take an examination, which will be offered in December 2008.

As always, the trade show and expo will not only rock you, but will offer a dynamic parade of relevant and exciting exhibitors. Expanded hours on the tradeshow floor will ensure our exhibitors get the most exposure possible, and busy retailers can take their time exploring the wealth of new technologies in the market.

A new addition to the show floor is the Asia Pavilion. Spearheaded by ERA’s Asia Committee, the pavilion will serve as an umbrella to a wide and diverse number of Asia’s most successful direct-to-consumer companies. All conference attendees are encouraged to learn about the power of the Asian marketplace, meet its leaders, and increase sales through new partnerships.

The ever-popular New Product Hot Spot will be prominently featured and offer an array of products from inventors who are hoping to be discovered and awarded the coveted Inventor of the Year Award.

If you wish to exhibit, please contact ERA’s vice president of meetings, Karla Kelly, via e-mail at [email protected].

On Tuesday, September 23, ERA will offer two more Master Classes, which will include “DRTV - Concepts and Applications” and “Direct Response Online Advertising.” These two sessions are designed to offer attendees clear and content-rich data to help ensure cutting-edge tips to assist in development of budgets, multichannel convergence methodologies, and most importantly, improved sales and lead generation.

The Annual Awards Gala is the crown jewel of two intense days of content-rich education, heavy business meetings and non-stop networking. This is the time to raise your glass and toast the best and the brightest in multichannel campaigns. Awards will be given for the Best Long and Short Form of the Year, Best Product of the Year, and more. To enter your company in the ERA Awards program, contact Christy Hopkins via e-mail at [email protected].

Come one, come all and rock with the best in the direct-to-consumer industry!

Sigi Friedman is ERA’s vice president of strategy. She can be reached at [email protected]. Karla Kelly is ERA’s vice president of meetings. She can be reached at [email protected].

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