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Sun 7 Aug 2005 04:00 AM

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Agencies are ‘holding back’ DM

A CRM expert has claimed that agencies are holding back direct marketing in the Middle East.

A CRM expert has claimed that agencies are holding back direct marketing in the Middle East.

Michael Walters, managing director of Dubai Media City firm True Integrated Marketing, told Campaign Middle East that the cost of high quality customer relationship marketing systems has put off many agencies from using them locally.

Brands use CRM to manage relationships with existing customers and to sell them new products and services.But Walters said the standards of service from mainstream agencies to clients is not good enough when it comes to CRM.

He said: “It’s very poor. Agencies as a whole have very powerful networks. In the global networks they will have the resources but it is not here — to ship it in is quite expensive, so the best thing is to ignore it. I passionately believe agencies have held back direct marketing in this region.”

TIM is among the first companies in the Middle East to licence a system called Marketing Contact Audit (MCA). It attempts to measure every contact a consumer has with a brand, including above the line and below the line, to develop an understanding of the relationship with the brand and the most effective way of reaching them. Walters claims that for businesses spending US$5 million a year, using MCA could lead to a 10% reduction in marketing spend and a 10% uplift in sales.

Oscar Jamhouri, CEO of New York-based company Integration which developed MCA, said: “For any company that is serious about communicating with its customers this is a necessary investment.

“But the most important thing is commitment to make it work — you would be surprised how much top companies pay lip service to this.

“I worked in the Middle East for more than 12 years and I know the region can benefit from this.”Walters warns that many marketers are looking for reasons not to get involved in the complexities of DM.

“There are always excuses, blaming the PO boxes, that sort of thing, but that’s assuming DM stands for direct mail. There are lots of other ways of direct marketing,” he said.He also warned that SMS is being ruined in the region as a DM option because of spam texts being sent out that consumers have not opted into.

He said: “Etisalat encourages it. If any other organisation did the spamming they would say it’s terrible, but because it’s a monopoloy, the medium is being spoiled for correct usage.”

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