Impact Proximity gets one to one

One to one marketing is nice in theory, but does it work and could it take off in the Middle East? A new agency, Impact Proximity, argues that it will

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By  David Ingham Published  February 26, 2002

A new advertising & marketing agency has been brought into the world, following Impact Traffic’s recent transformation into Impact Proximity. Proximity will market itself as an agency focused on what is known as one to one marketing, or customer relationship management (CRM) — essentially, the art of knowing your customers better.

Douglas Palau, managing director at Impact Proximity, says the appearance of the new agency is a result of the growing sophistication of customers. “The consumer, particularly in the Middle East, is changing very quickly,” says Palau. “More than ever, you have to understand consumers on an individual basis.”

Impact Proximity will continue what Impact Traffic started, offering Web site design and online campaigns. What will be new about Proximity is a direct presence in Jeddah and the recruitment of a CRM (customer relationship management) specialist being hired out of Europe. The Jeddah team will specialise in offline database building activities, such as street promotions and in-store campaigns, whilst Dubai will remain focused on online.

Underpinning Proximity’s work will be the notion that companies must get closer to increasingly discerning consumers in order to continue to keep them happy. Proximity’s goal will be to come up with innovative programmes that encourage consumers to voluntarily disclose personal information about themselves. This data can then be used to develop products and marketing programmes that are more appealing to individuals.

However, whilst one to one marketing might be a nice idea in theory, it has aroused antagonism in the West because it is seen as intrusive and has contributed to the problem of e-mail ‘spam.’ Simon Bond, business development director at Impact Proximity, says that previous experience reinforces the necessity for agencies like his to come up with programmes that are relevant to consumers.

“Permission marketing puts pressure on the agency to add value,” he says. Consumers, he argues, will not be resistant to offers and programmes that appeal to them personally.

To support his argument, Bond cites campaigns that have proven successful. A programme that Impact Traffic managed for Adidas enabled the sportswear maker to generate information on around 60,000 young people’s sporting preferences. Now, if a new piece of David Beckham merchandise comes out, the people that like football get to know about it.

Another campaign saw Emirates join forces with Porsche to offer a holiday of a lifetime as a competition prize. According to Bond, 24,000 responses were received from high value individuals who were willing to hand over personal information. Emirates now has those names on file for use in future campaigns.

Because Impact Proximity and Impact Traffic before it make such large use of the Web, fighting the region’s scepticism about online marketing has been a large part of the agency’s job. Bond admits that the going was difficult at times last year, with clients reluctant to dip a toe in the waters of the Web.

Now, he is hopeful that the corner may have been turned. “Money is now being allocated to online, sometimes up to 10-12% of budgets,” says Bond.

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