Direct Marketing is a channel-agnostic form of advertising that allows businesses and nonprofits organizations to communicate straight to the customer, with advertising techniques that can include Cell Phone Text messaging, email, interactive consumer websites, online display ads, fliers, catalog distribution, promotional letters, and outdoor advertising. Direct Marketing messages emphasize a focus on the customer, data, and accountability. Characteristics that distinguish direct marketing are:
- Marketing messages are addressed directly to the customer and/or customers. Direct marketing relies on being able to address the members of a target market. Addressability comes in a variety of forms including email addresses, mobile phone numbers, Web browser cookies, fax numbers and postal addresses.
- Direct marketing seeks to drive a specific “call to action.” For example, an advertisement may ask the prospect to call a free phone number or click on a link to a website.
- Direct marketing emphasizes trackable, measurable responses from customers — regardless of medium.
Direct Marketing involves a “direct response” from a consumer. It is a technique that is used to address commercial messages towards individual consumers. A synonym which is sometimes used is “One-to-one Marketing”. It differs from regular advertising in that it does not place its messages on mass media such as newspapers or TV. Instead, the marketing message of the service or commodity is addressed directly to the consumer. This sales and promotion technique uses promotional materials such as leaflets, brochures, letters, catalogs, or print ads that are delivered individually to potential customers via so called “addressable media:”
- The mail (Direct Mail).
- Telephone (Telemarketing).
- Humans (Door-to-Door Selling, Party Plan Selling).
- E-mail (E-mail Marketing).
- Internet (Behavioral Targeting)
- Mobile phones.
Direct marketing is dependent upon the use of customer data and lists, normally in databases. Hence also the terminology: Database Marketing. These databases are searched and “crunched” to select those consumers that have the optimal chances for sales success.
Direct Marketing is practiced by businesses of all sizes. A well-executed direct advertising campaign can prove a positive return on investment by showing how many potential customers responded to a clear call-to-action. General advertising eschews calls-for-action in favor of messages that try to build prospects’ emotional awareness or engagement with a brand. Even well-designed general advertisements rarely can prove their impact on the organization’s bottom line.
A related form of marketing is Direct Response Marketing. Contrary to Direct Marketing, in Direct Response Marketing the customer responds to the marketer directly. Its most common form today is Infomercials via television presentations, to which viewers respond directly via telephone or internet. Coupons in magazines and newspapers are another type of Direct Response Marketing.
Origin of the Direct Marketing model
Researches have found the roots of direct marketing in Europe when it emerged from the Middle Ages (and feudalism) and entered the Renaissance. The first trade catalogs were issued by printer-publishers of the 15th century soon after GutenbergÂ’s invention of a moveable type (c. 1450). Credit for the oldest extant catalog (1498), which gives prices for inexpensive books by Greek and Latin authors offered, goes to Aldus Manutius of Venice.
Steps in the Direct Marketing method
- Strategic decisions. Researching. Targeting. Set the objectives. Media choice.
- Communication of the offer.
- Customer response and ordering of the products. Donation. Subscription. Membership. Attending a demonstration. Asking for more information.
- Fulfillment. Filling the order. Distribution. Customer service.
- Database Maintenance and Customer Relationship Management.
Strengths of Direct Marketing model
- Effectiveness can be measured directly by comparing purchasing behavior of targeted vs. non-targeted consumers.
- Direct contact with the customers.
- Consumers receive commercial messages which have been adjusted to their profile. Convenience.
Limitations of the Direct Marketing approach
- Sometimes criticized for generating unwanted solicitations (Junk Mail and Spam).
- Privacy concerns. Legitimate Direct Marketing firms should offer methods by which individuals can ‘opt out’ of these lists upon request. Direct Marketing agencies must respect the do-not-call list maintained by government agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Source: Edward L. Nash – Direct Marketing: Strategy, Planning, Execution
Source: Bob Stone, Ron Jacobs – Successful Direct Marketing MethodsBusiness frameworks like Database Marketing are invaluable to evaluating and analyzing various business problems. You can download business frameworks developed by management consultants and other business professionals at Flevy here.