With the growth of customer engagement channels, and in an increasingly competitive market, the pressure is on brands to deliver direct marketing campaigns that drive interest, engagement and ultimately returns for the business.
In a bid to get noticed, many brands are choosing to ramp up their creative approach. But while this delivers eye catching concepts, it often fails to meet the brand and consumer needs and, as a result, a disappointing ROI is being achieved.
So, how can brands ensure they are developing a concept that achieves the right balance between engaging creative and functional execution?
Traditionally, handling and fulfilment agencies have been kept separate from the development activity until the later stages, by which point significant decisions and investment in the DM collateral has already been made. The brands and businesses looking to achieve greater success with their campaigns shouldn’t be afraid to involve the handling and fulfilment agencies from the outset.
Keeping the creativity and delivery apart is likely to result in significant disconnects between consumer and brand engagement. Whilst the creative concept of an idea may look interesting initially, if areas including storage capacity, packaging requirements or the multi-channel user journey needs haven’t been considered, brands could find themselves having to make costly adjustments later on.
This in turn impacts on project timings as further concept approvals or entire redevelopment may need to be undertaken, thus delaying the roll out of the campaign. All of this can be prevented, if the handling and fulfilment agency is involved from the start.
It may seem obvious, but remaining mindful of the end consumer when developing all forms of direct marketing is vital if it’s going to be effective in winning over hearts and wallets.
For example, Sainsbury’s Active Kids campaign requires promotional materials to support activity. The design and development of these items and how they will be displayed and used in schools will need careful consideration. Factors like ensuring materials or parts used aren’t hazardous or harmful to children or too large and obstructive need to be taken into account.
Keeping each element of the process siloed is likely to cause costly errors for the brand and delay project timings as redesign, approval and redevelopment takes place to ensure all the elements above are addressed, before the display material can be dispatched to schools.
Identifying customers’ preferred channels and tailoring an approach is vital. Heavy reliance on trying to be creative can be detrimental to the functionality. Whether this is in the packaging of a piece of direct marketing that makes transportation difficult, a complex approach taken to the assembly of promotional materials or poor customer contact channels.
Despite the growth of customer channels forcing brands to rethink how they engage with consumers and find new ways of working, the same can’t be said for how they are working on executing a direct marketing concept. Collaboration between creative and handling and fulfilment earlier on has never been more vital. Brands that take action now will not only find they execute campaigns that are practical for the intended audience and environment, but also deliver a significant uplift in ROI.
Stephen Bentley is chairman of Granby Marketing Services
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