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Guest opinion: Combine brand thinking with direct marketing

Opinion: David Batten, chief executive, Crazy Horse

Direct marketing (DM) must have the support of clear brand thinking, but it’s an area that is too often overlooked. The two can be successfully combined, from both the agency and the client perspective.

The requirement for DM departments to achieve maximum results in minimum time is causing some to lose sight of the brand.

‘Brand blindness’ produces discordant messaging, which leads to customer perception that the brand is in a state of confusion. Avoiding brand blindness requires agency and client to recognize a greater responsibility than their particular short-term, tactically driven activities. It also requires marketing channels to follow the brand, not vice versa, which means that the client must communicate brand positioning, values and messaging internally.

This brand package must then be conveyed to the agency.

Every piece of DM communication must have both a clearly stated brand objective and a response objective against which creative work should be judged. Establishing these involves developing hard-hitting above and below-the-line propositions.

We also need to understand what would activate the non-responders. Often the catalyst is brand-orientated feelings and messages. An appreciation of the brand’s role is essential if we are to persuade non-responders start responding.

Finally, targeting. It is crucial to avoid a series of one-off tactical campaigns. These not only scatter results but also splinter the brand.

The biggest worry is not knowing the damage to the brand until long after the mailing is history, by which time, it may be too late.

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