Direct Marketing

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The Pros and Cons of Direct Marketing

Direct marketing has a reputation for intrusiveness and downright annoyance. The challenge for marketers is to use these powerful tools for good! Too many businesses abuse direct marketing techniques because they don’t understand how to integrate the tactics into their overall marketing strategy.

According to Ira Kalb in Business Insider, online social networks are really just new forms of direct marketing. “Direct marketing channels are where buyers and sellers can transact business (and communicate) without ever meeting face-to-face or touching and feeling the merchandise.”

The four most popular direct marketing vehicles include:

  1. Direct Mail
  2. Telephone
  3. Direct Advertising
  4. Online

Direct Mail

PROS: Prospects can easily get product information and place an order from their home or office.

CONS: Companies send “junk” mail to people who have no interest in the product or service. Unwanted “junk” mail has spread to the Internet as “spam.”

Direct Dialing

PROS: Outbound calls are good for answering questions, taking product orders, customer service, and cross-selling.

CONS: Telemarketers make uninvited “cold calls,” interrupting prospective customers, and talking them into buying items they don’t want. Outbound telemarketing became so hated that a law was passed in 2004, resulting in the Do Not Call Registry.

Direct Ads

PROS: Customers can order the product directly from the ad (e.g. a direct mailer with a postage-paid business reply card to order the product; a TV commercial with a toll-free phone number to order; an email with a link to buy).

CONS: Ads tend to look cluttered and readers don’t know what to look at first, or give up looking before finding the call to action.

Direct Online

PROS: Internet and mobile advertising can reach consumers as they’re conducting research or right at the moment of making a purchase decision.

Online and social media can amplify marketing efforts when integrated with direct mail and direct response ads.

CONS: Not everyone has a smartphone or lives online, and those that do may not be on at the right time.

Social networks work best when you integrate them with your other marketing efforts. All printed materials, such as direct mail and direct response ads, should feature links (or a QR code) to your primary social channels. Your social channels should also include your website.

Remember to tie your social efforts back to your print work, product packaging, special events, and employee outreach efforts. Each channel should work to coordinate and complement the other, not simply repeat.


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MarketingTango is the leading online resource for integrated marketing. The blog covers a wide range of marketing tactics and their place in an integrated marketing strategy. Regular postings will include articles, ideas, tips, and real-world solutions to help companies of all sizes achieve their business objectives.