Not All Direct Mail Is Direct Marketing

Some look at the acronym DM and see Direct Mail. But when I see DM, I see Direct Marketing.

One would think this was obvious in today's complex marketing world. But this type of narrow thinking continues unabated. So we must continue to revisit the basics from time to time.

Let's look at this idea that not all direct mail is direct marketing 

I received a piece of mail today from Cisco Systems describing its latest great new product. The call to action was this tepid statement: "See your nearest dealer."

The advertiser does not expect people to get in their cars, on the Internet or even on their phones to find out if their favorite retailer has this new product so they can check it out. And even if they did, there is no coding in the mailing to track response.

Clearly they do not expect direct response for fear of upsetting their distributors.

This is nothing more than advertising in the mail. It does not follow the fundamentals of the direct marketing strategy.

If it did, then the call to action would include a two for one offer, a $100 rebate or free one year tech support if the recipient purchased the product by X date. They would then provide a tracking code for the recipient to qualify for the discount and a toll free number to call, an Internet address or the name and address of a local retailer directly in the copy.

So to quality as direct marketing, the advertiser must track a direct response and evaluate the mailing based on its ability to sell the product.

If their was a pre-announcement mailing with no call to action until the main piece arrives with the detailed offer, then the pre-mailer is counted as a support for the direct marketing campaign. But even here, the pre-mailer must carry its own weight by lifting response sufficiently to justify the extra expense.

Now for the second idea. Not all direct marketing is direct mail.

As shown in the example above, the announcement of the new product with a strong offer can run on television, the newspaper, a magazine, online, an email, paid search and other available media applications. 

The bottom line. The direct marketing strategy can use any available medium. 

It is true that direct mail remains the core medium for many direct marketing advertisers. 

One case in point are fundraisers. For many, direct mail represents 80% plus of their marketing budgets. For others, direct response TV has overtaken direct mail predominance. And at some point, many more fundraisers will depend heavily upon online marketing to raise the bulk of their dollars.

The only constant is the direct marketing discipline. Your media strategy and how you target your audience are all testable items with the winners quickly replacing media that no longer work as well as they once did.

Posted on November 14, 2008 and filed under Direct Marketing Strategy.