Federation of Direct Marketing Services

As discussed in "Needed: Direct Marketing Operating System", the direct marketing channel is currently lacking an systems infrastructure. We're striving for a solution with the DMOS platform. When it's available, DMOS will make it easy for direct marketers to purchase direct marketing services from a variety of vendors. It will also be easy for direct marketing service providers to provide their services through DMOS.

Some examples of direct marketing services are mailing lists, merge/purge, data modelingCASS address standardization, printing, and email delivery. Examples of direct marketing service providers are list brokers, list managers, service bureaus, and printers.

Direct marketing service providers will be able to publish the availability of their services through the DMOS directory – a structured and searchable directory organized by service categories. Think of this as a turbo-charged version of the yellow pages specifically tuned for the direct marketing channel.

What is the relationship between DMOS and the service providers? I believe that "federation" is a term that aptly describes the relationship. According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, a federation is

"a system of government in which several states form a unity but remain independent in internal affairs"

Although not typically used in describing relationships between businesses, I believe the concept of federation is appropriate here.

The DMOS platform will unify direct marketing services. It will enable buyers to find and procure direct marketing services. It will enable vendors to deliver their services through a common platform. DMOS will provide some "governance" to ensure that the marketplace runs smoothly. Some examples are user authentication, security, directory services, service monitoring, integrity, confidentiality, etc.

However, each marketing service provider will "remain independent in internal affairs." They will be completely responsible for the delivery of their services. DMOS will help buyers to find and request a vendor's services, but the vendor will be responsible to negotiate and fulfill the buyer's needs.

This federation relationship reminds me of a shopping mall. The mall owner is responsible for the security and infrastructure. On behalf of the buyers, the mall owner will ensure a safe and easy place to conduct business. Each seller is responsible for running their own store.

From a business perspective, the concept of forming federations has been around since the first bazaar was established centuries ago. Electronic marketplaces are relatively new, but recent advances in computer technology have made them feasible for even small businesses. Other more complicated industries, such as manufacturing and travel, have implemented federated marketplaces.

I believe that an electronic marketplace for direct marketing is feasible because of the highly electronic nature of the business. Unlike most other industries, almost every aspect of the direct marketing process can be performed electronically. All that's needed is some "glue" to combine and orchestrate all of these electronic processes.

It's about time direct marketing had a federated marketplace. Don't you agree?

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