Conquering the Cost and Complexity of ComplianceFor some of the world's largest direct marketers, compliance is an inescapable concern with constant and far-reaching ramifications. In industries such as banking, insurance, money management and mortgage lending, every marketing word spoken represents a potential breach in regulatory compliance without the proper oversight.
As companies strive to make communications more customer-centric and responsive, compliance issues can be the fly in the marketer's ointment, requiring added time and cost to review and "fix" the legal jargon with every campaign piece. For some, the compliance adherence drag on any campaign is simply too great. As a result, the same generic approaches often are implemented, leading to redundant, inefficient efforts and missed market opportunities.
The pain isn't just on the legal side. Marketers also fret about brand image compliance when local offices conduct communications with little to no visibility or supervision.
Progressive DMers are finding that new technology-based workflow solutions can provide the safety net to satisfy the most zealous compliance officer while enabling fast, flexible campaigns. The same solutions let marketers sleep better by ensuring brand compliance while giving local offices the autonomy they need.
Pain point for marketers. The rub for marketers in industries closely monitored by state and federal regulators is that the more customized and versioned the information, the more complicated the logistics become around maintaining regulatory compliance. The issue of fluctuating interest rates and premiums is ongoing, but one that can be handled simply. The headaches set in when dealing with things like constantly changing insurance regulations on a state-by-state basis or highly versioned marketing pieces that require legal approval on each individual piece.
How can these companies responsibly deliver timely, relevant information while meeting all government regulations? Most can't. Their marketing "systems" simply cannot support it. In most organizations, one change sets in motion weeks' worth of activity, involving the legal department and compliance officers' changes and approvals, the ad agency's time producing new mechanicals and finally, a whole new production phase - spending tens of thousands of dollars.
And the more tailored the communication by customer, geography, product offer and timeframe, the more the problem compounds.
The matter might be left at status quo if the gains from more relevant and timely communications weren't so enormous, and if companies weren't so anxious to get a centralized grip on all the company-wide marketing communications that may or may not meet compliance guidelines.
Answer to complexity: simplicity. When approaching a problem that involves many moving parts, often the best solutions handle that complexity by overlaying a common process that is simple and ubiquitous. For large-scale marketing campaigns, which may involve thousands of sources of data and versions of collateral, the simple process needed to enforce order is the application and management of business rules. Predefined business rules let marketers:
* Automate the process of matching compliance language.
* Lock compliance language to eliminate errors.
* Implement needed changes in real time.
* Let local offices personalize within a compliant framework.
* Foolproof the marketing process so that brand assets are never at risk.
Furthermore, these technology-based workflow solutions can manage whole sales territories, ensuring that customers and prospects do not get spammed across product groups and sales lines. They also help keep the data clean after any customer response or purchase by using a "closed loop" process that continually updates the customer information. The result is a faster, nimbler and lower-risk environment for one-to-one marketing.
Covering the macro and the micro. Today's automated direct marketing solutions benefit both centralized and distributed operations. One major U.S. bank, for instance, operates its local branch marketing through one corporate function that creates multiple versions of documents, populates them with all of the relevant local information and makes them appear in all practical ways as though they originated from the consumer's own branch. Hundreds of variations on thousands of pieces are executed, monitored, recorded and measured through one comprehensive platform.
In the case of a top insurance company, where it is often imperative that many of its independent agents conduct their own marketing, the sales agent selects documents from a library of materials predetermined by corporate with language and product offerings that are monitored and approved for their territory.
For example, an agent selling long-term care insurance in Florida is presented only with the product offer permissible by law in Florida. In this way, the corporate marketing, legal and compliance departments have total control over brand (logos, layout, fonts, colors, images, etc.), products (that may need to vary state-to-state) and compliance language without constraining the local field organization from communicating with their customers and prospects as needed.
This kind of controlled granularity represents a huge step forward for marketers in heavily regulated industries.
Privacy compliance is another vulnerable area for many companies in the era of CAN-SPAM and no-call lists. Business rules-driven systems can automate and speed the process of integrating opt-in and opt-out information into the DM operations so that companies also can maintain their integrity with regulators and customers on the critical issue of privacy.
Where complexity was once the impenetrable barrier to highly customized and relevant customer communication, today that complexity offers marketers endless opportunities to fulfill the individual needs and preferences of each customer - one at a time or thousands at a time.