Advantages of Direct Marketing
Jan 21, 2016
There are a lot of advantages to using direct marketing versus retail marketing. From a B2C perspective, you can conduct a retail business without having to build, stock, and man stores. It doesn’t require brick and mortar and this is a huge advantage over retail marketing. A retailer has to build a new store every time they enter a new market. A direct marketer doesn’t. Promotional offers can be made to new customers or in new areas without having to build new outlets. If business gets soft in a particular market or customer segment, you can cut back on your promotional efforts to that market or segment until such time as prospects begin to respond again. And, you can run or mail your promotion to customers in different regions when business is soft in a specific area. Unlike retail, your offer and product mix can be more easily adapted to a particular audience or customer segment and you can communicate with customers on more frequent basis rather having them come to you on their own schedule.
B2B direct marketing’s big advantage over B2B personal selling are that you can do a lot of prequalification and selling before you actually get sales people involved in the face-to-face selling process. From a business development perspective, it costs a lot less to develop new business leads using direct marketing tactics than it does to have sales people knocking on doors to do the prospecting. There’s a huge savings in terms of travel and compensation costs. And, when you actually do get humans involved in the face-to-face selling process, they can focus on providing the prospect with solutions to their needs and problems because they are dealing with a fully qualified opportunity. We’re not talking about the complete elimination of people from the sales process, because telemarketing is a large component of B2B direct marketing. But, telemarketing using in-house sales people is a lot less expensive than having this discovery and qualification phase handled by face-to-face sales executives.
People respond to Direct Response Advertising promotions for several reasons. Convenience is one of the primary reasons. They don’t have to move from the comfort of their home or office and they can order the product/service 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week in most cases. 24/7 ordering and responding are made possible by the improvements in digital technology and software. A customer or prospect can respond to an offer without having to actually speak to a sales representative. They can place their order, check inventory availability and even be cross-sold or up-sold on other products without ever speaking to a representative. In fact many digital direct marketers make it almost impossible to actually speak to a human, which is not necessarily a good thing especially from the buyer’s perspective. But, digital technology has also made it possible to provide 24/7 customer service and support by locating these services offshore in other time zones and countries.
Another reason that people may buy direct is that they haven’t seen the product/service offered in their market area. You can literally buy 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, around the globe and that means that if I want that English Pudding that I can’t get down the street at my local retailer, or from a US direct marketer, I can buy it direct from a direct marketer in the United Kingdom.
Consumers may also feel that there is an offer, product or service advantage to buying direct, as in the case of ordering to avoid paying sales tax on large purchase items. With more and more states and local governments losing their tax bases, there is increasing pressure at both a state and Federal level to plug this loophole. Many large direct marketers, like Amazon, and also multi-channel merchants, like Macy’s, who have local retail outlets, are now starting to collect state sales and local government sales taxes.
Direct Response Advertising is highly targetable because of ability to build and or buy databases (mailing lists). You can purchase databases of consumers segmented by demographic, geographic, or lifestyle variables (e.g., females 18 – 34 who live in Washington County that are self-described cycling aficionados). You can buy or rent list of B2B prospects targeted by SIC/NAICS codes as well as geography, size in sales dollars, etc. Even if you start your program using other media besides direct mail and email, your goal is to eventually build a list of prospects and buyers that have all of the qualifications necessary to make them ideal purchasers of your product/service. It’s even possible to do a degree of targeting using other media depending on the medium being used. Most printed publications now maintain demographic, geographic, psychographic and firmographic information on their readers and subscribers. You can target your best prospects by selecting the right publications. You can choose the cable or radio channel that reaches your best prospects. Virtually all mediums offer some sort of selects and segmentation today for targeting.
Direct Response Advertising is very personal. The use of database technology allows you to personalize each offer. Salutations and greetings can begin with the prospect’s name, for example. Past purchase history, demographic or behavioral, and other customer related data can be integrated into the message and offer. With Direct Response Advertising, you have the ability to personalize every aspect of the promotion from the message, to the offer, to the products and services being sold or in support.
It’s whole story oriented. What is meant by this? It means that you are not limited by the usual time and space constraints of mass media. If you’re advertising on television, it means that rather than trying to communicate your message in 10, 15 or 30 seconds, you can take minutes or even as long as 30 minutes in some infomercials. If using direct mail, you can create a brochure or collateral that is rich in detail that shows the product in use and also provides ample room for communicating all of the features and benefits that will increase the interest of the reader and drive them to purchase or respond to your offer.
In summary, here are the advantages of direct marketing:
- It’s measurable and accountable.
- It’s highly targetable.
- It’s personal.
- Your offer/product mix can be easily adapted to audience and business conditions.
- It’s detail / whole story oriented.
- It doesn’t require brick and mortar.
- You go to the customer.
- It can be tested.
Direct Marketing 101 Tutorial
If you’re new to direct marketing or want to take a refresher course, check out our Direct Marketing 101 Tutorials. Click here.
Dudley Stevenson, founder and CEO of DWS Associates, has over thirty-five years’ experience in consumer marketing, business-to-business marketing, and direct marketing, including developing, planning, and implementing go-to-market strategies. He's also the author of "Marketing Direct: Breaking Through The Clutter." Working with organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies, he and his team have helped clients such as IBM, Sony, Neiman Marcus, Arizona Highways, Marshall Field & Co., Mrs. Field’s, UNICEF, and Patagonia implement successful direct marketing programs. A longtime member of the Direct Marketing Association and the American Marketing Association, Stevenson is also a sought-after speaker. He’s given hundreds of presentations and workshops on marketing and direct marketing. His “Marketing Planning 101” workshop alone has reached more than 100,000 marketing and sales professionals.