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Direct marketing offers online marketing rules

On global trends in direct and interactive marketing, international judge for the Assegai Awards, Joost van Nispen, says online marketing is direct marketing on steroids.
Joost van Nispen
"General advertising rules do not work for online and social marketing, but direct marketing rules do. Direct marketing is the best educational platform for those wanting to be leaders in the online arena," he says.

As professor of direct, interactive and relationship marketing at ESIC Business & Marketing School in Spain, Van Nispen has identified some global trends in direct and interactive marketing.

"Reputation has become increasingly important. What other people say about you far outweighs the messages you try to structure about yourself or your brand. In this respect, reputation management has become a critical component of the communication mix."

In addition, the need for mass customisation is critical. It is no longer a matter of 'coffee for everyone'. "Consumers want the right message at the right time. The rise of digital has led to a rise in database-driven one-on-one communication.

Creative impulse

When asked about South Africa, he says the country probably has the most pronounced creative impulse of any country he knows (he founded Ogilvy & Mather Direct - now OgilvyOne - in South Africa in 1982).

"This creative impulse has driven communications and direct marketing from the start. Today the country is on a par with the US and Europe in terms of strategy development and media use, and in the forefront when it comes to creative execution and the integration of social and mobile elements of the marketing mix.

"South Africa is distinguished by its 'everything is possible' attitude. In addition, everything is executed with great creative passion. It bowls me over every time I see it."

Emerging trends

Sponsored by the SA Post Office for the past six years, the Assegai Awards highlight how direct marketing has evolved over the years. The event also reveals emerging trends that underpin this fast-evolving discipline.

SA Post Office head of mail business, Janras Kotsi, adds that the organisation has embraced electronic platforms as part of its direct mail offering. "Interestingly, we are currently experiencing a resurgence of direct marketing. This may be attributed to the financial meltdown that has seen marketers compelled to account for the work they do - an area in which direct marketing excels," he says.

Direct mail accounts for 25% of its letter volumes and more than R500m in revenue. "There has however been a steady decrease in mail volumes over the past few years with the exponential growth of digital media."

Traditionally, the role of the post office has been restricted to distributing mail pieces. However, with technological advancement and the integration of communication, it has diversified its offerings to provide full communication services though the creation of a special division ePostal, which is dedicated to digital channels and specialises in electronic direct marketing channels such as SMS and email.

Kotsi says the SA Post Office understands the role of direct mail in this new environment. "In the multi-channel, integrated media market we now live in, in diversifying and expanding its strategies both horizontally and vertically, it is geared to take advantage of the convergence and integration of new media into advertisers' campaigns, add new value by offering solutions that facilitate the use of their channel offerings and use technology wisely and efficiently."
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