Magazine article Marketing

Opposites Attract

Magazine article Marketing

Opposites Attract

Article excerpt

Integration is all the rage, but James Curtis asks how well sales promotion and direct marketing are working together

Integration is one of the industry's most over-used terms. It seems that everyone is doing it and anybody that isn't should be. The bug has swept across all disciplines, with advertising, direct marketing and sales promotion agencies all wanting a slice of the 'one-stop-shop' action.

Bringing together disparate disciplines involves an inevitable culture clash, especially when it calls for advertising and sales promotion practitioners to roll up their sleeves and get to grips with customer data.

The integration of sales promotion and direct marketing involves a particularly big clash, combining dissimilar disciplines practiced by different types of people. Direct marketers tend to think long term about building relationships, while sales promotion has traditionally focused on boosting short-term return. Direct marketing is about one-to-one relationships, while sales promotion is focused on the offer. The two disciplines also have different origins: sales promotion has its roots in FMCG and retail, while direct marketing's heartland is financial services.

The industry would have you believe that the two are in a state of wedded bliss. Integrated agencies tout sales promotion as an integral part of data-driven marketing and use it to gather data as well as boost sales. But is this true in practice?

Colin Lloyd, chief executive of the Direct Marketing Association, says the two should work together in "a virtuous triangle". Promotions should be used to generate data for future targeted communications, and promotions should take a lead role in data-driven marketing. This is theory. In practice, the picture is different. Lloyd asks why, if sales promotion and direct marketing are supposed to be fully integrated, there is not more overlap between members of the DMA and the Sales Promotion Consultants Association, and why direct marketing has not penetrated further into FMCG.

Can they work together? Perhaps they have to Direct marketers are realising that the best way to get a database going is via a promotion. Conversely, sales promotion, eager to tailor its offers to different groups, needs direct marketing as a vehicle to reach its audience. As John Shaw, managing director of Wunderman Cato Johnson, says: "Direct marketing is the saviour of sales promotion and good sales promotion can make direct marketing work harder. …

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