What is Direct Marketing?

Everyone has seen marketing strategies of companies come alive on radio, newspapers, television screens and in the internet. Basically, marketing is essential in every business as it helps the business strengthen its connection with loyal costumers as well as gain new ones.

Marketing is widely used for attracting attention and creating interest. It plays an important role in establishing relationships between the company and its consumers, and its main purpose is to find and keep customers for the long haul. Marketing also convinces customers to purchase a product to service, thus generating sales and income for the company.

What is Direct Marketing?

Direct marketing has been around for ages and has become a business staple. It is a marketing method and at the same time a form of advertising in which companies make direct contact with existing and potential customers to promote their products and services. You may also see Marketing Objective.

Direct marketing removes the “middle-man” from the promotion process. Companies directly provide physical marketing materials to the consumers to inform and communicate with them about the products and services they provide. In this sense, advertisements or marketing directed to an entire population is not included in direct marketing namely radio, television, and online advertisements, billboards, etc.

As the name would suggest, advertisements that are on a personalized level or are directly received by the customer is part of this method such as phone calls, text messages, mailers, catalogs, brochures, etc. This method is most common in business that has yet to have big advertising budgets such as startup businesses.

Although this method is often considered as an aggressive type of marketing, businesses still continue to use it so they can easily make the customer choose an action. Its message involves a call to action whether to subscribe to a monthly magazine subscription, direct purchase or to basically just respond to the promotion.

No matter the aggressiveness and traditional nature of this marketing strategy, the results are immediately measurable since the company can easily track who responded to the call to action of the promotion.

Compare and Contrast: Direct and Mass Marketing

1. Direct Marketing

  1. Depends on initial small-scale tests to achieve success.
  2. Needs low initial allocation of funds since full deployment is yet to take place once results are proven effective.
  3. Continuously improves results through revision, tracking and measuring.
  4. Success (conversion rate, response to call-to-action) is determined from the start based on the initial test results.
  5. Safer and practical route especially for startups since results are achieved in the initial deployment.

2. Mass Marketing

  1. Relies on large-scale deployment to achieve success.
  2. Needs huge allocation of funds and resources to push through simultaneous promotion to the general population and various channels.
  3. Failure to achieve results during initial attempt means the end of the whole campaign.
  4. Success (conversion rate, brand aware) is not precise from the beginning, but is determined at the end of the campaign itself.
  5. Mass marketing results are yet to be measured after the whole campaign.

Principles of Direct Marketing

1. A Marketing Method and Form of Advertising

As it’s general principle, direct marketing is just another method of marketing and form of advertisement with the smart goal of promoting a product or service and urge costumers to take a course of action. It involves the identification of a target population, be it existing or new prospects, that are seen as suitable and capable of fulfilling the objectives of the campaign.

2. Intends to Influence Customers to Make an Action

The whole purpose of direct marketing is to influence the customers to take a particular course of action. It aims to encourage target customers to comply with the objective of the campaign. A course of action in a campaign can be through sales orders, subscriptions or renewals, making a charitable donation, etc. You may also see Music Marketing Examples.

3. Is Direct and Individualized

Communication is direct and individualized to each target customer. As the name would imply, it has to be precise and straight to the point. It can be through a sponsorship event, door direct mail, direct phone call, text message, personal email, etc. All promotional efforts must be tailored to the specific target customer or group of customers.

4. Can be Executed through Various Channels

Just because it is direct doesn’t mean it can only be done through one medium. Direct marketing can be executed through various channels where members of the target population can be urged to take a course of action. You may also see Business to Consumer Marketing Example.

5. Needs to be Measurable

If objectives are not set prior to the deployment of a direct marketing, it will be hard to measure the success of the campaign. Although it is not 100% necessary, growing businesses who wish to improve their sales and marketing activities should design a measurable direct marketing strategy to aid them in assessing the effectiveness of specific marketing actions.

Types of Direct Marketing

1. Internet Marketing

With the capability of eliminating geographical considerations that the internet has taken advantage of, direct selling has become easier, more flexible, more targeted, more responsive and more affordable. Companies opt to take advantage of the powers of the internet in marketing and promoting their products and services.

Some of the most common ways of internet marketing are done through direct email marketing; product subscription or renewal of subscription, a link that directs you to another site, personal discounts codes, etc.

2. Face-to-Face Selling

This is one of the most traditional forms of direct marketing. This involves an in-house sales force to personally contact new prospects and established customers. Some of the major companies that use this are Avon, Mary Kay, and Amway.

3. Direct Mail Marketing

This is described as sending an online promotional campaign to an individual with a particular street or electronic address. Direct mail strategy has been around since 1000 B.C. and became more popular during the invention of the printing press in 1440. Direct mail marketing allows high selectivity of the target market thus permitting it to be personalized and flexible. It also allows early testing to measure out its response rate. Its success is often determined highly by a selective and accurate mailing list.

4. Catalogs

Catalogs serve as the communication tool between the company and its customers. A product catalog features a variety of products that help target customers with a high tendency of purchasing. This is most common in business-to-business marketers where they send catalogs to prospects and customers alike. On an average, a single household in the USA owns at least one catalogs ranging from general merchandise to specialty goods.

5. Telemarketing

This is a very common marketing strategy in the USA. This is the process of contacting people on a qualified list to sell specified products and/or services. Its success depends on a good calling list, convincing script and well-trained telemarketers who execute the promotion of the product. Although sometimes this form of direct marketing is deemed a nuisance, it is still able to achieve its goals and objectives.

6. Direct-Response Advertising

This is promoting the product and/or service to prospective customers through TV, radio, magazines, and newspapers. The difference of this strategy from that of a mass marketing is that once the customer learns about the product, he/she initiates to call a toll-free number to purchase. This is commonly noticed on specific TV channels intended solely for promotion and selling. You may also see Advertising and Marketing Examples

7. Kiosk Marketing

A kiosk is a free-standing, semi-permanent display within a big establishment (like a mall, high-rise building, etc.) that provides usually a form of service without human supervision. A common example of this is an ATM machine which is a high-security kiosk. Kiosks are designed to deliver and collect information to a customer in absence of a human retailer or seller.

Pros and Cons of Direct Marketing


  1. It gives you options on how to perform the marketing strategy such as direct mail, by telephone, through direct advertising, or even online.
  2. It provides customers with specific product information.
  3. It offers the opportunity to answer questions from target customers.
  4. It allows you to take a personal approach.
  5. It is more affordable than mass marketing.
  6. It allows you to be accurate.
  7. It takes out the problematic middle.
  8. It allows you to do it on your own.


  1. It can target many people who have no interest in your product.
  2. It is often aggressive and uninvited.
  3. It can often look cluttered.
  4. It usually has low response rate.
  5. It takes a lot of time.
  6. It can spread negativity quickly.
  7. It requires a lot of patience and consistency.
  8. It always requires a welcoming market to begin with.

In conclusion, direct marketing may be a traditional method of marketing but it still yields positive responses and results. It is a direct communication from the company to the consumers and it aims to influence the consumers to purchase or direct an action needed to fulfill the objectives of the company. It also touches a personal level of relationship Marketing between the company and its consumer since it relies on direct contact in order to be successful.

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