24 January 2008

The DM disconnect

Not only are advertising agencies inadequate in handling technical and B2B products and services (see my previous post), they also lack sufficient skills in handling direct marketing, or DM. That’s because there are fundamental differences between advertising and DM, which advertising agencies cannot, do not, or are not willing to grasp.

While advertising is about building brands, DM is about building and managing customer relationships.

While the ‘brand’ takes centre-stage in advertising, the ‘customer’ is at the centre of all DM.

While advertising is a one-to-many (typically a B2C) mass-media communication targeted at customer segments, DM is a personalised one-to-one communication targeted at individual customers.

While advertising is a one-way flow of brand information and brand benefits to the customer, DM is a response-driven communication which encourages the customer to participate and interact (and not just be a passive receiver of information).

While advertising washes its hands off after the ads are released in the media, DM takes accountability for every response received (or the lack of it) and every rupee spent on the campaign.

Although DM proves that it works, there is a vital disconnect from the practitioners of advertising who believe that, since it lacks the glamour and the marketing spends of mainline advertising (see here), DM is down market, below-the-line, and not worth their trouble.

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