Monday, August 14, 2006

An introduction to Direct Marketing

Direct Marketing is an interactive system of marketing that uses one or more advertising media to effect a measurable response and / or transaction at any location, with this activity stored on database. (Source - Direct Marketing Magazine)

So direct marketing is not just

a. An invitation or a statement that comes to you through post / courier
b. “Take a look at our catalogue and call 1-800 to order”
c. It is not a “cut this, fill in your details and win a gift” on a magazine or newspaper
d. 40% off between August 01, 2006 and September 07, 2006, rush now...

So what is it?

It is another stream / way of marketing

As the definition above suggests you are a Direct Marketer if

1) You use any one or more media vehicles
2) Communicate with a select target audience
3) Measure the response / transaction by the media vehicle used
4) Track this activity using a database
5) And most importantly use the database so generated for your future marketing activities

An example we all know & have seen…

“Call 1-800-183939 to get a home loan at 0% interest” This is an advertisement we all see on newspapers, hear in our radios, see on the web as banners and so on, frequently.

If you are interested, you call the number specified. The person there teases you with some information about the product and asks for more details about you. So you give them information on who you are (contact information) and much more (including some details like your salary, your age etc.)

After this conversation there are two possibilities.

1) The lady who speaks tells you that you are eligible for the loan and says that she would ask someone from her sales department to get in touch with you
2) She says “Sorry sir / madam you don’t qualify (because of some reasons she would explain)”

In both cases your details are retained with the banks / financial institutions database and they would definately use your details for some future marketing plans they might have.

So what can Direct Marketing do?

1) Identification of a suspect (a prospective consumer)
2) Target the suspect, convert him into a prospect
3) Obtain more information from a prospect, generate a lead
4) In some cases enable a sale, convert the prospect into a consumer – Acquisition
5) Be in dialogue with the existing customers, keep them in the flock – Help retain people
6) Get in touch with those who are not customers anymore – Try win them back

In a nutshell, a Direct Marketing agency formulates strategies (for its clients, obviously) for

a) Lead generation – Generation of prospects
b) Acquisition – Getting new customers
c) Retention – Keeping in touch with the existing customers
d) Win back – Getting those who left us comeback

So what is the difference between advertising, sales promotion and direct marketing?

Advertising: It is the usage of mass media. You speak to people en masse, you never know who exactly you are speaking to and in general it doesn’t call the target audience to take an action immediately.

Sales promotion: A short term route you take to immediately hike your sales up. While the means used might tempt us to call this direct marketing, it is not. Because it usually is a one time effort and there is no follow-up or a sustained contact.

Direct Marketing: It is cyclic process. Using this you give birth to a consumer, give him a name & identity (building a database), hold this persons hand throughout his lifetime (sustained communication) and also be the good shepherd who brings in the consumers who go astray (winning back).

To conclude

Direct Marketing is sustained personal and relevant communication by generation of a database of information on the suspects, prospects & consumers.

I am very grateful to Ogilvyone Worldwide for whatever little I know about direct marketing today

No comments: