Use the Net for coherent brands

David Reed’s analysis that companies need to wake up to the brand-building abilities of direct marketing (“Lines of battle”, MW September 2) is correct. But allegiance to the brand shouldn’t hamper the end result – sales.

Too many businesses are still producing collateral which they farm out to their resellers and are unable to track. It’s too generic and concentrates on the brand instead of the sell. They know that what is going out is consistent with their values, but what they don’t know is if their collateral is being pitched correctly to dealer markets. Chances are it isn’t.

To avoid this, vendors need to cultivate better partnerships with their resellers. This will enable them to strengthen brand by tailoring mail to hit the right audiences with the right product and (yes, you’ve guessed it) at the right time.

The problem, however, comes in the execution. Too much dealer autonomy can dilute brands, and if you don’t know how your logo and product set are being used on brochures and mailshots it’s easy to lose control.

But vendors should not be scared to loosen their grip on the reins. The Internet offers a great opportunity for the tailoring of brochures, within given parameters. The look and feel (and hence brand) can remain the same while content can vary to suit markets. The vendor exercises control, the dealers the knowledge of their market.

But too few vendors are willing to provide even this limited freedom for channel “partners”. Until they do, they are likely to suffer for putting their stubbornness before good sales practice.

Richard Watney

Chief executive officer

Elateral

(e-mail)

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