Editorial: CRM Doesn't Mean Cancel Real Marketing

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We receive thousands of company press releases each week at DM News. But during the past couple of years, there has been an increase in the use of a suspiciously recurring reference popping up in many of them: the "fully integrated" organization dedicated to "comprehensive" customer relationship management or marketing.

There also has been a steep rise in the number of companies partnering with one another in the mad dash to create alliances that presumably allow businesses to remain best of breed in their respective fields. Some have taken to changing their names, saying brand identity must be re-established and amplified in this new economy of this new millennium - the most recent being Wunderman Cato Johnson, which recast itself as Impiric a few weeks ago. We can't hardly wait to hear what Team South and Merkley Newman Harty will rename their newly merged company after the comment in this week's Agency Beat column that it will be "something fun and very contemporary."

Call us stupid, but in the face of all the trendy re-engineering, we're wondering why so many customers, clients and vendors keep complaining about service standards in nearly every sector of this alleged new economy. Does all this sudden integrating, merging and rebranding mean the direct marketing industry's relationships with clients, vendors and customers are changing to make way for a wholesale reorganization of the supply/demand chain? Or is it that some have forgotten what the words "service" and "direct" really mean to the customer? And to compensate, they've found new ways to talk about a one-to-one dialogue that no longer exists.

Relationships. Loyalty. Customization. Just thumb through this week's Database Marketing section and you'll see company executives talking about putting their customers first. That's what matters most.

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