The DMASA and You
Posted on 25 Mar 2014
 The DMASA and You
Recently I attended the IT leaders Africa Summit, which was full of IT managers, CIOs and CDOs (Chief Data Operators) – and there we have the link. Direct Marketing is rapidly becoming known as Data Driven Marketing. And the Chief Marketing Officers of global Blue Chip companies are overtaking CIOs as the main investors into innovative soft and hardware. Data is, as someone said a couple of years ago, the new global currency. It is an increasingly important part of the equity of brands.

The Direct and Interactive Marketing Association of SA (DMASA) has to represent and be in the forefront of data driven marketing in order to be of relevance and importance to our 460 members. We have therefore, improved communications to our members with newsletters and our website (under improvement as I write), as well as entering into social media with Facebook (www.facebook.com/DirectMarketingAssociationSouthernAfrica) and LinkedIn.

However, our main objective, of course, is representing the interactive and direct marketing (IDM) sector with government, and increasingly, concentrating on best practices with codes and all the infrastructure that supports best practice, including a complaints phone line for consumers and trying – usually successfully – to mediate between consumer complaints and our members.

South African legislators, like legislators in many other countries, are moving towards what is sometimes known as ‘soft law’, whereby a regulator will agree an industry code, so long as it is adequately policed, and then apply it to members of the sector association and non-members non-discriminately. We see this model in the CPA and POPI laws. The end result is sector-specific codes which save companies from being hauled up and fined by the regulator, with all the bad publicity which that entails. We can wash our dirty linen behind the association’s closed doors, and only in very serious or unco-operative cases will the issue be escalated to the Regulator.

Our Do Not Contact (DNC) list remains vital to members, to clean their lead-generation lists for campaigns and dedupe consumers who absolutely do not wish to be contacted. Not only does this follow the CPA opt-out requirement, but it saves members from having to face furious consumers who want to be left alone – with wasteful calls which tie up the call centre, or which get the company bad reviews in social media. Even with the implementation early next year of the POPI Act, the DNC will remain essential.

The DMASA recognises that we cannot (and should not) compete with commercial events, and so, in addition to holding specialised workshops, master classes and conferences ourselves, we work with other organisations and support their conferences in exchange for discounts for our members. These are announced in our newsletters. The main event we encourage members to attend, at least once, is the US DMA’s annual conferences which present the sharp-end, new developments in data driven marketing.

These best practices together with the Assegai Awards for interactive and direct marketing provide members with a sort of ‘stamp of approval’. Members represent best practices, and, increasingly, large clients ask that their suppliers are DMASA members.

We are now looking at a consumer pledge or trust mark for e-commerce as that grows in SA. This will be based on the new European e-commerce and mail order association (EMOTA) trust mark. We need to learn from others and not re-invent the wheel.

Again adding value to members. We are also revisiting our creative/ROI awards, the Assegais. These awards have grown steadily over the years, and will now be marketed actively and linked to international awards. As our international judge, Joost van Nispen, said, South Africa creativity and effective campaigns are some of the best in the world, we need proudly to encourage and promote that fact. We are preparing case studies of post winners with the Universities of Pretoria and Johannesburg, which will be issued soon.

We are also working with the Universities on high level research into interactive and direct marketing – which is presently lacking. We are also working with the national educational bodies (SAQA, SSETA and NQTO) and with our colleagues in other advertising and marketing associations to improve marketing education and training in SA. Not only do we need to improve marketing education in universities (there are only three which offer IDM as a serious element in their courses!) and FETS, we also need to ensure that young recruits to marketing can follow professional requirements to further their careers across the marketing spectrum, from direct marketing to advertising to market research, PR, etc.

Interactive and direct/data driven marketing deserves to be considered as a profession. We need to be proud of our business and of the disciplines that are required (from analytics, to ROI, to creative, etc.). With pride comes a deeper understanding of the need for best practices to attract and retain our customers. This is what the DMASA stands for today.

By Alastair Tempest