What Is Direct Marketing?

In May we mark Mental Health Awareness month (w/c 13 May), one of the key dates in the wellbeing calendar. I note this because there is increasing pressure on many to do more, with less time and less resources, the marketing industry is also feeling this pressure. It is important to continually focus on self-care, not just in May but in an ongoing capacity.

I have been speaking at length with a number of small business owners this month about how we connect with our target audience, given limited time, budget and resources available. As part of these discussions the value and how we effectively use direct marketing has cropped up. Some clients have argued that this is an outdated way of connecting with clients, whilst others still very much see the value.The simple answer is yes, it is still a valuable way of connecting with our audience, but we need to be considered in how we use direct marketing. Planning is key, having clean data is crucial and how it is implemented will vary by business type.

Definition of direct marketing

So, what do we mean when we think of direct marketing, traditionally we think of printed media but more and more in a digital world, tools such as email marketing are coming into their own. Direct marketing can be defined as:

“Direct marketing consists of any marketing that relies on direct communication or distribution to individual consumers, rather than through a third party such as mass media. Mail and email marketing are amongst the most typical systems used.”

Examples of direct marketing

Direct marketing can appear in many forms and in a fast paced digital world, digital channels are also a key consideration. It is often easier to understand the impact our direct marketing has due to a clear and strong call to action or ask eg: Book a personal training session before the 31 May and get 50% off your first session; Buy one pizza get the second free or Free electrial review during May, etc.

There are many ways we can track the effectiveness of our direct marketing. For example, you could add a discount with a specific reference code or quantify through a dedicated telephone number. Having systems like this in place means that it is easy to understand how successful the campaign has been. Whilst in comparison to email marketing, printed direct marketing is a more costly exercise, it can really help to achieve cut through in a cluttered digital world.

1. Posted Direct Marketing

This is the most obvious distribution method when you think of direct marketing. It could be a letter, leaflet or small item, delivered directly thorugh their letter box. Sometimes called lumpy mail, done well it can be incredibley impactful, cutting through in a very busy and cluttered environment. The quality of the data has to be really good for this method to work, as naturally there are higher costs involved with creative design, print and postage.

2. Door Drops

Depending upon your business door drops are another great way of targeting a particular audience. I have seen it work well if you are a local restaurant, estate agent, personal trainer, electrician, builder or gardner tageting a very small area. With a specific offer and a clear, single minded message, it can be really impactful. It is also ideal as the potential audience will put the leaflet on the fridge to save for a later date when they need the product or service. It does not work for everyone however, so this method should be used with caution.

3. Email Marketing

As you know email marketing is one of my favourite marketing tools. I believe, done well it is a gift for any small business. Whilst we can quickly see the impact our email marketing achieves, we do also need to be really careful not to bombard our audiences and only share relevant information. With Statistica estimating 8.3 billion emails are sent daily in the UK, we need to create valuable, relevant and interesting content via this tool.

When to use direct marketing

This is a tricky question to answer as it will vary by business, objectives and target audience. As with all marketing activity, careful planning is very important. Being clear on what you wish to achieve, defining your target audience and your market will all help to guide if this is the right tool to use to connect with your potential clients. Different media have different roles to play, so it is important to define your strategy and plan out what activity will work across different times of the year.

In Summary

There is most definitely still great value using a variety of tools to connect with our target audiences. If you would like to see how direct marketing can help to elevate your small business, please get in touch to discover more.

Sophie Comas

A highly successful self-motivated and results driven, senior marketing professional. My passion lies within developing and delivering marketing solutions which make a difference in today's complex digital market place. A marketeer with a strong academic background and broad ranging level of experience working with small businesses and in the travel and hospitality sector, across the Thames Valley, I love a challenge!

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