Direct Marketing: An Introduction
Direct marketing presents information about your company or product to a targeted group of potential buyers without the use of an intermediary. It’s different than mass marketing, which seeks to appeal to the largest number of people without regard to differences in demographics or consumer preferences. Direct marketing, or direct response marketing, also differs from approaches that rely on retailers or other third-parties to promote your company or product.
If you’re looking for a direct marketing definition or just wondering “what is direct marketing?”, it’s important to think about goals. Indirect marketing efforts such as press releases or online reviews seek to build awareness. By contrast, direct marketers seek to persuade the recipient of a communication to take a specific action. Examples include getting the recipient to visit a website, scan a QR code, send a text for product information, book an appointment, or share contact details.
Direct Response Marketing and the Buyer’s Journey
In any marketing campaign, getting the sale remains the ultimate goal. However, direct marketers understand that potential buyers might not be ready to make an immediate purchase. For example, even in a hot real estate market, most home buyers won’t purchase a property sight unseen. Instead, buyers may read a listing, view pictures, participate in an open house, ask the realtor for a private showing, and research the local schools and tax rate.
Similarly, a doctor who hears about a new medication is unlikely to prescribe it without examining the indications and speaking with a pharmaceutical company representative. Regardless of the industry, direct response marketing aims to start the buyer’s journey. In particular, by compelling the recipient to take a specific action. Based on information gathered about the recipient, such as demographic or occupational information, there’s also a greater likelihood of interest in the message.
Figure 1: Connect Brochure for Pharma – designed by Structural Graphics
Direct Mail: Then and Now
If you’re looking for some direct marketing examples, start with direct mail marketing. Whether it’s a glossy printed piece or an interactive brochure with audio or video, direct mail supports personalization. For example, a nationwide real estate company can send different listings to house hunters in Portland, Maine and Portland, Oregon. By determining the respective response rates, marketers can also calculate the return on investment (ROI) for each campaign.
Traditionally, direct marketers have snail mailed printed pieces such as brochures, catalogs, fliers, post cards, and coupons. Today, many marketers send email or pay for targeted on-line display ads instead. Phone calls and text messages are also popular. Yet, there are disadvantages to these methods. For example, email marketers and telemarketers are both subject to increasing regulations. It’s also harder to gain a recipient’s attention when so many marketers are all using the same techniques.
Figure 2: No need for an app, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth connection
The Future of Direct Marketing
Interactive print media (IPM) provides a powerful way to capture and hold a potential customer’s attention. Direct marketers who send IPM products such as voice activated brochures can inform and engage target audiences while prompting the recipients of a message to take a specific action. By pressing a button, turning a page, or opening a panel, a user can play a personalized audio or video message that’s powered by an internal battery and that doesn’t depend on an external device or an on-line connection.