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Sunday, 29th November 2020

Company glossary


It is probably easiest to think of the bulk of the industry as a relationship between three key types of player: the client - the company or individual who wishes to use direct marketing; the agency - a body recruited to provide the direct marketing service; and the supplier - a specialist provider of marketing services (print, telemarketing, mailing services etc.)

Types of client

Clients can come from just about any business background - retail, travel, automotive, financial, publishing, telecoms, e-commerce, charity etc. Some organisations handle all their direct marketing requirements in-house; others a proportion of it, employing an agency to look after the rest; while others employ an agency (or agencies) to take care of all their direct marketing needs.



Types of agency vary enormously - they can be large or small, direct marketing specialists or offering direct marketing as part of a wider package of advertising, sales promotion and PR.


Whichever category an agency falls into, it is likely to be structured in a similar way, usually comprising of four key groups. These are: account management - often the central focus of the agency as this is the interface with the client; creative - where a client's brief becomes an idea and ultimately the communication to the customer; production - where the promotion is put together; and planning - both account and data planning.

A larger agency will usually have a number of service departments e.g. print production, IT, artwork studio, media, database, etc., while in a smaller agency it is common either to outsource these services or to share the responsibilities across other job functions.


 Both clients and agencies rely on a wide range of suppliers to support their direct marketing activity, such as database marketing companies and list brokers.

Specialist knowledge is at the heart of direct marketing. To really make direct marketing work it is important to have a grasp of the technical issues and the fine detail of each element.  This is where service suppliers come into their own.

Mailing, fulfilment, telemarketing, data processing, laser printing, list profiling and media buying are just some examples of services required to carry out direct marketing. Increasingly, suppliers are forming strategic partnerships with their clients, working together over many years to build a deep understanding and close working relationship.

In terms of structure, service suppliers generally operate around three key areas, these are: sales or account management, technical services, and production.


Read our glossaries to find out everything you need to know about marketing companies and job roles.

Company glossary




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