Is "Direct Marketing" Dead?

You would think that marketers and advertisers would understand the breadth and depth of the direct marketing strategy after about 50 years of steady progress. Sadly, they do not.

In one of DMNews' best issues published June 7, 2010, the "Gloves Off" section includes interesting comments on this very point in a contender battle between two marketers entitled "Is the Term 'Direct Marketing' antiquated?"

Jen Mundah, VP of resourcing and creative services for Carlson Marketing with 13 years of direct and interactive services says "yes."

"Historically, the terms 'direct marketing' and 'direct mail' have been interchangeable, both meaning a method of communicating directly with consumers through acquired lists... Direct mail still plays a role in the mix... while marketing directly to consumers is at the highest level ever... 'direct marketing' hasn't benefited."

Ms Mundah prefers the expression "direct strategy."

Gene Silverman, VP of Marketing Services and Account Management for Hawthorne Direct with over 20 years of DM experience takes the opposite position. 

"... the term 'direct marketing' still sits well with me... some direct agencies adopt 'smoke screen' terminology such as 'brand response,' 'direct to consumer' or 'b-to-c' marketing... In fact, direct marketing has never been more au courant, useful and powerful."

His position in the article is that direct marketing uses media in all of it's forms including TV, online, mobile, outdoor -- and yes, even print and direct mail.

Further in the same publication, Carol Krol, the Editor-in-Chief proposes that traditional lead generation methods continue to dominate profitable lead generation and customer upsell.

Who has this right? Have we strayed so far from the direct marketing strategy into media tactics that we no longer understand what the direct marketing strategy does? 

You may recall that Rogers and Peppers reinvented the term "direct marketing" (and most other terms associated with it) by calling the strategy "One-To-One" marketing.

So what do you think we should call this combination of science and art to persuade individuals to buy our products? Is the term "direct marketing" dead?

Posted on June 15, 2010 and filed under Direct Marketing Strategy.