Direct marketing differs from regular advertising in that it does not place its messages on a third-party medium,such as a billboard or magazine advertisement. Instead, the product or serviceis marketed directly to the consumer through media such as mail and email, and involves a “direct response” from the consumer.
It is attractive to marketers because its effectiveness can be measured directly: if a marketer sends out one million solicitations by mail, and ten thousand customers respond to the promotion, the marketer can claim a certain level of campaign success. By contrast, measurement of other media is often indirect, since there is no direct response from the consumer.
This form of marketing is sometimes criticised for generating unwanted solicitations, such as junk mail and spam.
New information protection bills
In South Africa, tough new data privacy legislation is set to impact marketers in early 2007, forcing them to change the way they reach consumers. Two draft bills, the Protection of Personal Information Bill, and the Consumer Protection Bill, will change the way information is stored and handled by list owners and users, and give all personal information confidential status. In addition, positive consent will be required for unsolicited marketing.
Michelle Perow, strategic director of direct agency Lesoba Difference, is leading the establishment of the new Direct Marketing Association (DMA). She says that if the bills are passed, they will restrict organisations from marketing without express permission. The DMA aims to self-regulate and to encourage organisations to request permission from consumers to send communication to them.
“At this stage the bills have not yet become law,” Perow says. “The DMA has submitted a proposal as to how they should be amended to enable a vibrant future for direct marketing.”
One of the key areas on which the DMA is focusing is the building of an opt out database. “This will be a legislative requirement,”says Perow. “Consumers who do not want to be marketed to will be able to register on this database. Member companies of the DMA will be required to de-duplicate their data against it prior to sending out any communication. This will be launched by the end of October 2006.”
Since it is unknown whether government will provide a moratorium period once the bills have become law, the DMA is encouraging all marketers to act responsibly and to get their house in order now. This will ensure business continuity once the law takes effect, which is expected to be early next year.
Says Perow: “All organisations that communicate across any channel with customers or prospects need to examine their communication activities. Agreements, forms, websites, and SMS messages should all be used to gain consent from the consumer. Organisations need to look at every possible touch point, from call centre to sales reps and ensure they invest a rigorous effort into permission marketing. That is how they will secure their marketing future.”
The DMA’s draft privacy submission can be foundon www.dmasa.org