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Direct marketing is a sub-discipline and type of marketing. It is an attempt to send a message directly to consumers, without the use of intervening media. This involves commercial communication (direct mail, e-mail, telemarketing) with consumers or businesses, usually unsolicited. It is focused on driving a specific "call-to-action." Therefore, it involves an emphasis on trackable, measurable responses from consumers (known simply as "response" in the industry) regardless of medium.
If the advertisement asks the prospect to take a specific action, for instance call a toll-free telephone number or visit a website, then the effort is considered to be direct response advertising.
Benefits and drawbacks
Direct marketing is attractive to many marketers, because in many cases its results can be measured directly. For example, if a marketer sends out one million solicitations by mail, and ten thousand customers can be tracked as having responded to the promotion, the marketer can say with some confidence that the campaign led directly to the responses.
While many marketers like this form of marketing, some direct marketing efforts using particular media have been criticized for generating unwanted solicitations. For example, direct mail that is irrelevant to the recipient is considered junk mail and unwanted email messages are considered spam. Some consumers are demanding an end to direct marketing for privacy and environmental reasons, which direct marketers are able to provide by using opt out lists, variable printing and more targeted mailing lists.
- Site for consumers from the U.S. Direct Marketing Association