Direct Marketing

How to Cost Effectively Sell More Of Your Products or Services

John Mignano

John Mignano

Direct marketing is simply a way of sending communications directly, whether you’re trying to fill seats in a restaurant or capture the attention of buyers on the Web.

Direct marketing success comes down to 3 steps:

1. Being prepared with a plan of action

2. Knowing your audience and their behaviour

3. Giving people what they want (or what they’re already buying)

There are two main definitional characteristics which distinguish direct marketing from other types of marketing.

The first is that it attempts to send its messages directly to consumers, without the use of intervening media.

This involves commercial communication (for example direct mail, e-mail, telemarketing) with consumers or businesses, usually unsolicited.

The second characteristic is that it is focused on driving purchases that can be attributed to a specific call-to-action.

This aspect of direct marketing involves an emphasis on tracking results, traceable, measurable positive (not negative) responses from consumers regardless of medium.

If the advertisement asks the prospect to take a specific action, for example call a free phone number or visit a website, then the effort is considered to be direct response advertising.

Channels: Some direct marketers also use media such as door hangers, package inserts, magazines, newspapers, radio, television, email, internet banner ads, pay-per-click ads, billboards, transit ads.

Direct mail: The most common form of direct marketing is direct mail, sometimes called junk mail, used by advertisers who send paper mail to all postal customers in an area or to all customers on a list.

Any low-budget medium that can be used to deliver a communication to a customer can be employed in direct marketing.

Probably the most commonly used medium for direct marketing is mail where the marketing communications are sent to customers using the postal service.

The term direct mail refes to communication deliveries by the Post Office, which may also be referred to as “junk mail” and may involve bulk mail.

Junk mail includes advertising circulars, free trial CDs, pre-approved credit card applications…

And other unsolicited merchandising invitations delivered by mail or to homes and businesses or delivered to consumer’s mailboxes by delivery services other than the Post Office.

Bulk mailings are a particularly popular method of promotion for businesses operating in the financial services, home computer, and travel and tourism industries.

In many developed countries, direct mail represents such a significant amount of the total volume of mail that special rate classes have been established.

In the Australia for example, there are bulk mail rates that enable you to send mail at rates that are substantially lower than regular first-class rates.

In order to qualify for these rates, you must format and sort the mail in particular ways  to reduce handling (therefore lower costs) required by the postal service.

Advertisers often refine direct mail practices into targeted mailing, in which mail is sent out following database analysis to select recipients considered most likely to respond positively.

For example a person that has demonstrated an interest in golf may receive direct mail for golf related products or perhaps for goods and services that are appropriate for golfers.

This use of database analysis is a type of database marketing.

Depending on the product, a more general database will do. Targeted and general databases can be expensive.

Want to find out how to cut these cost to a fraction?

Telemarketing: The second most common form of direct marketing is telemarketing, in which marketers contact consumers by phone.

The unpopularity of cold call telemarketing ( the consumer does not expect or invite the sales call) has led to the Do not call register within Australia restricting sales calls to homes and simular legislation in other countries.

This process may be outsourced to specialist call centres.

Want to find out if this is an avenue is suited to your needs?

Email Marketing: This  may have passed telemarketing in frequency at this point, and is a third type of direct marketing.

A major concern is spam, which actually predates legitimate email marketing.

As a result of the proliferation of mass spamming, ISPs and email service providers have developed increasingly effective email Filtering programs.

These filters can interfere with the delivery of email marketing campaigns.

In Australia, email marketing is restricted by the Spam Act of 2003.

Before using e-mail for marketing, be sure to be familiar with this act.

Broadcast faxing: A fourth type of direct marketing, broadcast faxing, is still an effective form of marketing within New Zealand and Australia.

The benefits of this include promotion requiring time sensitive messages and cost.

It can also be used to target specific industries and even individuals within a company through the use of mail-merge.

Want to find out more?

Voicemail Marketing: A fifth type of direct marketing has emerged out of the market prevalence of personal voice mailboxes, and business voicemail systems.

Due to complications of email marketing and the expense of direct mail and telemarketing, voicemail marketing presented a cost effective way to reach people with the warmth of a human voice.

This has not been very prominent in Australia but can easily become a form of “voice-spam”

Abuse of consumer marketing applications of voicemail marketing resulted in an abundance of “voice-spam”, and prompted many jurisdictions to pass laws regulating consumer voicemail marketing.

More recently, businesses have utilized guided voicemail (a application where pre-recorded voicemails are guided by live callers) to accomplish personalized business-to-business marketing formerly reserved for telemarketing.

Because guided voicemail is used to contact only businesses, it is exempt from Do Not Call regulations in place for other forms of voicemail marketing.

Couponing: This is used in print media to elicit a response from the reader.

An example is a coupon which the reader cuts out and presents to a super-store check-out counter to avail of a discount.

Coupons in newspapers and magazines cannot be considered direct marketing.

Since you incur the cost of supporting a third-party medium like the newspaper or magazine…

Direct marketing aims to shave the costs to solely delivering  unsolicited sales message to the consumer, without supporting the newspaper that the consumer seeks and welcomes.

Direct response television marketing: Commonly referred to as DRTV has two basic forms.

Long form (usually half-hour or hour-long segments that explain a product in detail and are commonly referred to as infomercials).

Short form refers to typical 0:30 second or 0:60 second commercial that ask viewers for an immediate response (typically to call a phone number on screen or go to a website).

TV-response marketing i.e. infomercials can be considered a form of direct marketing, since responses are in the form of calls to telephone numbers given on-air.

This allows you to reasonably conclude that the calls are due to a particular campaign and get a customer’s phone numbers as targets for telemarketing.

Direct selling: This is the sale of products by face-to-face contact with the customer, either by having salespeople approach potential customers in person, or through indirect means such as Tupperware parties.

Integrated Campaigns: For many marketers, a comprehensive direct marketing campaign employs a mix of channels.

It is not unusual for a large campaign to combine direct mail, telemarketing, radio, broadcast TV as well as online channels like email, search marketing, social networking and video.

In a report conducted by the Direct Marketing Association, it was found that 57% of the campaigns studied were employing integrated strategies.

Of those, almost half (47%) launched with a direct mail campaign, typically followed by e-mail and then telemarketing.

Direct marketing is all about working smart, understanding the consumer spending patterns and having the right marketing blueprints to follow.