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One-stop specialised direct marketing units woo ad agencies and clients

MUMBAI: "Stick to core competencies - outsource the rest" seems to the mantra for ad agencies! A new breed of one-stop direct marketing shops for loyalty programmes, corporate gifting and mail-orders undertaken by corporates (such as banking institutions, credit card companies, automobile and retail companies) has emerged! Ad agencies are coordinating or outsourcing direct marketing (DM) requirements of their clients from companies top players such as Brand Magnet and Infovision amongst others.

Brand Magnet (a division of 15-year old 1st Mail Order company promoted by Leena Godiwala) has completed two

years in the sphere of "fulfillment" related services. It also provides back-end logistics complete with warehousing services and catalogue services.

Established in Mumbai in 1988, 1st Mail Order is India's pioneering mail order house which markets innovative gift products, for personal and corporate gifting needs, through its colourful mail order catalogues.

Brand Magnet currently handles companies such as Standard Chartered Bank, Tata TELCO's Indica and Indigo divisions. Infovision too has clients such as The East India Hotels (Oberoi group), Barista and Philips.

In fact, these companies also provide services to websites (such as rediff.com, indiatimes.com) which have online shopping channels. Adequate care is taken to receive orders, source the required goods, package them attractively, deliver them to the client, collect payments and handle customer service.

While undertaking these above mentioned activities, these companies have become an extension of BPO (business process outsourcing) and IT enabled services (ITES). Corporates and agencies who don't have requisite expertise in this segment have obtained a considerable measure of success by indulging in such

direct marketing activities.

Brand Magnet director marketing Vanashree Ghate says:

"We provide low-cost options as we have adequate resources including affiliates in 11 cities mapping the length and breadth of the country. Otherwise, companies have to dedicate resources and invest in infrastructure to tackle complaints and after-sales

services." Ghate is a veteran with experience in ad agencies (FCB Ulka) and marketing (Faber Castell India amongst others).

Infovision assistant VP Rohit Gupta says: "InfoVision Group has been promoted by professionals, with vast experience in the IT enabled service industry including software development . The company philosophy is focused upon a relentless pursuit of

excellence and quality in every sphere of its activities. Whether it is the field of managing call-centers, data processing, software development or eMail response activity, InfoVision Group has the resources and infrastructure required to meet future

challenges of an ever changing technology environment."

The database for the direct marketing events are either obtained from the client or sourced locally through allied companies. Brand Magnet, for instance, has access to 135,000 names which are on the database of its parent organisation 1st Mail Order. Through 1st Mail Order's existing brand equity, new names are being added to the database every day.

Infovision also has access to the several names compiled by sourcing lists from people who sell databases. Brand Magnet also does regular mailing to more than 50 per cent of the above mentioned list.

"With the hectic marketing for emerging sectors such as the telecom, retail and insurance sectors, more corporate entities are open to our suggestions. However, ad agencies must realise that organisations such as our have the capabilities to take complete

responsibility for the services," says Brand Magnet's Ghate.

The business pie is increasing with several new insurance companies (ICICI Pru Life, Aviva, Birla Sun Life, Tata AIG amongst) others aggressively using the direct marketing route. Retail companies such as Shoppers Stop, Westside and Globus strongly believe in loyalty programmes for wooing retail customers.

JWT's direct marketing Thompson Connect's head Rakshin

Patel says: "Loyalty programmes help brands and services to establish a one-to-one equation with clients and customers. We look at several viable options based on the client requirements and budgets."

Looks as if several ad agencies and corporates are realising the importance of outsourcing resources for specialised loyalty programmes or relationship-building programmes which are conceived with the intention of providing long term benefits!

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