Traditional methods of advertising are usually focused on broader target markets with standardized messages and offers distributed through intermediaries. However, many companies are now adopting direct marketing methods by focusing on a narrow target market or one-to-one marketing. It consists of direct connections with carefully targeted consumers in order to attain direct response and develop strong customer relationships. Direct marketers communicate directly with the customers on a one-to-one basis. Direct marketing also involves collecting and maintaining a detailed database of personal information about potential customers and clients.
They use this information to tailor their marketing offers and communications to satisfy the needs of narrowly defined segments or individual buyers. Some common forms of direct marketing include, telephone marketing, solicited or unsolicited emails (direct mail marketing), catalog marketing and online marketing. (Andariese, 2008) Direct marketing can be beneficial for both buyers and sellers. For buyers, it is usually easy to use, convenient and private. It gives buyers ready access to various products and information at home, office and around the globe. (Direct email marketing, 2007)
They can also browse mail catalogues or company Websites at any time of the day. Furthermore, it is immediate and interactive as buyers can interact with the sellers by phone or through the seller’s Web site, and then create an arrangement of information, products or services and then order them instantly. (Cuno, 2008) Interaction, however, is beneficial for both the sellers and the buyers it allows both parties to build a good relationship in order for a sale to take place. On the other hand, direct marketing for sellers is a powerful tool for building customer relationships.
By using a database of potential customers, marketers can target small groups or individuals, and customize their offers according to the needs of individuals. One of the most common forms of direct marketing is direct mail campaign which is used by advertisers who send paper mail to all postal customers. One advantage of this is that it is cost-effective and an efficient way to reach target markets. The first reason is that the message is only sent to those individuals who are actually interested and secondly, the effectiveness of the previous campaign can be analyzed and improved for the next. (Direct email marketing, 2007)
Direct marketing is also more target-based. Traditional advertising consists of sending a general message to a large number of people where as with direct marketing, a specific group of individuals can be targeted and messages can be tailored according to their needs and preferences. (Withers, 2008) It is also guaranteed to reach the hands of the audience where as television, radio and billboards rely on the luck of timing to reach any audience. (Direct email marketing, 2007)
Although direct marketing campaigns are quite beneficial, there seem to be a few drawbacks to this approach. If poor direct marketing skills are involved, it can actually make customers avoid certain products or services. This can be caused by certain ethical issues in direct marketing. Sometimes, excessive direct marketing can annoy or irritate customers, leaving a bad reputation of the company, product or service. At times, marketers are also accused of taking unfair advantage of buyers who are impulsive or less sophisticated. (Andariese, 2008)
Furthermore, direct mailers have also been accused of deceiving consumers by writing copy letters and confusing or misleading the consumers into believing they have won a prize or would win a prize if they purchased an item. Fraudulent schemes have also increased. This includes investment scams and phony collection of charity done by direct marketers who pretend to be conducting a research. (Withers, 2008) A major concern with direct marketing is the invasion of privacy by keeping more information about potential customers than required in their marketing database.
Although consumers benefit from database marketing by receiving offers closely related to their interests, some feel insecure about the fact that marketers may know too much about consumers’ lives and that they may use this information to take unfair advantage of them. (2)(i) Direct mail marketing involves delivering offers, announcements, and other advertising material through postal mail, to a person at a specific address. Direct mail is usually for direct, one-to-one communication. Its communication effectiveness is usually high due clear, straight forward messages tailored especially for the targeted customers.
It allows high target market selectivity, can be flexible and allows easy measurement of results. (What is Direct Mail? , 2008) However, the cost of directly reaching people individually is higher than mass media like television or magazines, but the targeted customers are usually better prospects. By receiving mail at home, the advertiser’s message is mostly likely to reach the hands of the consumer, where as with a television ad they might just walk away from it. However, this does not always happen. Direct mail has recently been associated with ‘junk mail’.
Some consumers become irritated and annoyed by receiving several ads in the mail everyday and as result they are thrown away unread. Therefore, the messages do not always get across to the consumer. This becomes a challenge for marketers to find ways for persuading customers to open the mail and read the ad. (What is Direct Mail? , 2008) (ii) Direct email is an upgraded version of direct mail. Since the Internet is now a major source of advertising, many of the same techniques are being used electronically in email. Advertisers now send emails with ads to large groups of people.
The benefits of using this kind of marketing technique is that it is of relatively low cost to obtain a long list of emails and then takes lesser time to send the mail to millions of people. However, these sorts of emails are usually perceived by consumers as junk mail or spam and are immediately deleted without even opening it. But there is a difference between spam and direct email marketing. Through direct email marketing, attractive, professional and compelling ads are sent to a small group of people who are actually interested in the messages.
Direct email marketing is usually permission-based opt-in email instead of unsolicited emails which is known as spam. This kind of technique offers certain kinds of mechanism which provide feedback on the effectiveness of the campaign by tracking the number of emails opened. (Cuno, 2008) (iii) Direct response print ads create positive awareness of the product in the minds of the target audience, create ways to influence them to purchase it and also ask the market to call, visit their Web site, mail or contact the advertiser somehow.
Therefore, direct response print ads are more effectively measured as there is immediate feedback from the customers. The main aim of a direct response ad is to influence customers to respond to the ads by actually contacting the seller or advertiser rather than simply creating awareness. (Cuno, 2008) These print ads have high communication effectiveness as they give readers enough information in order to make a buying decision and usually get straight to the point. However, the impact of the message put across in the advertisement depends on how much it influenced the consumer towards making a buying decision. (Andariese, 2008)
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