Technology to Join Direct, Brand Marketing

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Aiming to close the gap between polarized disciplines, many marketers are rallying to bring together direct and brand marketing.

Messages that can effectively marry creativity and accountability will be a prerequisite to reaching customers through mail, television or the Internet, observers said. Enabling the marriage is technology, and driving the shift are customers who want more personalized and relevant product pitches.

"The polarization in this business has been amazing," Richard Rosen, president of Rosen/Brown Direct, said at DM Days New York earlier this month. Rosen cited numerous examples of response rates that soared well beyond 10 percent when creativity was applied to direct mail campaigns. "This is not brain surgery. It works."

In "Secrets of Blending Brand Advertising with Direct Marketing Creative to Triple Response," Rosen helped marketers understand a process that blends goal-setting, follow-up and testing to optimize response rates.

In one example, Rosen had established a test that measured 42 different combinations of letter, envelope, offer and art to monitor response. The optimum combination yielded upward of a 16 percent response.

"This is becoming such a cluttered world, we need to get out of it," he said.

Technology will bring the two disciplines together, said Tim O'Leary, CEO of The Tyee Group, Portland, OR, a full-service agency specializing in direct response television.

"Traditional agencies and direct response agencies need to learn from each other," O'Leary said.

While the goals of direct and brand marketers have been disparate, some creative executives said carrying the brand message to direct executions works.

"We used a lot of the tone and manner of the brand and changed the construction of the ad in order to make it work across all communication streams," said Heather Higgins, executive creative director of Foote, Cone & Belding Direct, New York, about results from work recently carried out for Gevalia Coffee.

The importance of bridging the gap is not reflected only in executions but budgets as well, according to Mike Becker, chief creative officer of worldwide at Wunderman Cato Johnson, New York. "These days, some companies are spending 50 percent of their total advertising budgets on loyalty programs."

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