For many companies it’s a real challenge to decide which advertising medium to use, especially in today’s tech-driven environment. One bad decision could cost a company their entire marketing budget, so how do they decide which medium is right? There’s the Internet, newspapers, magazines, television, radio, social media and more. But for some reason, the channel that most seem to discount these days is direct marketing – and well, that’s just crazy.
With social media on the rise, and being significantly cheaper than other mediums, many companies are going for it. Great if you are opening the hottest new club in town, but what about if you’re trying to sell hearing aids? Twitter may not be your best bet! So, when deciding what channel to use, the first step is to identify your target market and the best way to reach them.
Let’s stick with the hearing aid example. Although an increasing number of seniors own computers and are savvy about navigating them, studies show there are better ways to reach them in a more targeted fashion, like by direct mail.
While Internet spending has increased dramatically over the last several years and newspaper advertising has decreased dramatically, direct mail spending has remained virtually flat. Flat doesn’t sound good, does it? But really, this means that it’s a tried and true marketing medium that has stayed consistent throughout the years.
Direct marketing, as defined by Wikipedia, is a form of advertising that reaches its audience without using traditional, formal channels of advertising, such as TV, newspapers or radio. The goal of direct marketing is to allow businesses to communicate directly to the consumer through the use of advertising techniques such as flier and catalogue distribution, mailing of promotional letters, and street advertising.
There are several advantages to direct marketing. Here are a few:
1. It enables you to send your message directly to the consumer, without interference. For instance, when it comes to TV spots, how many people now Tivo and DVR their favorite TV shows, and skip right through the commercials, blasphemous to an advertiser, but it happens nonetheless!
2. It also allows you to personalize your message to each consumer. “Dear Mr. Jones, we would like to offer you a special discount…”
3. Direct mail also can include a call to action, which allows for tracking. For example, if you ask consumers to “bring this coupon into the store to receive your discount,” you can actually tally up the amount of coupons the store receives to see the success of your campaign. Other calls to action include, “call this number” or “logon to this website.”
4. Although there are many forms of direct marketing – telemarketing, e-mail marketing, door-to-door leaflet marketing, broadcast marketing – direct mail remains the most popular.
5. In a study conducted by The Direct Marketing Association, it was found that 57% of the campaigns studied employed integrated strategies. Of those, almost half (47%) launched their campaigns with a direct mail piece.
6. Additionally, although we were using the hearing aid company as an analogy marketing to seniors, direct mail can also be used successfully to market to all age and ethnic groups.
Direct Mail and Coupons
For the first time since the Depression, the Gen Y group and their followers, the Gen Z group, are saving more money than any of their predecessors. Although not a definite, this could be attributed to the rise of coupon usage. Where it used to be taboo to use a coupon (think standing in line behind the blue-haired lady in the grocery store, with her handful of coupons), it is now the norm and almost expected. Don’t want to spend the money for your morning latte? Probably will if you have a 50% off coupon. And what better way to receive a coupon that by having it mailed directly to your house?
So when determining how best to spend your precious marketing dollars, first and foremost consider your market and how to reach them, then make sure your messaging is clear and if using direct marketing – consider making your consumers an offer. And don’t discount direct marketing – it’s how many consumers get discounts and they love that, so you should too.