“Direct marketing is a form of advertising that reaches its audience without using traditional formal channels of advertising, such as TV, newspapers or radio. Businesses communicate straight to the consumer with advertising techniques such as fliers (sic), catalogue distribution, promotional letters, and street advertising.”
Well, that’s what Wikipedia reckons. Just goes to show, then, that even this most modern encyclopedia is already showing signs of age. Back in the Sixties, when the term was first coined – by Lester Wunderman – it is said direct marketing had already been going nearly 100 years; it’s just that no-one knew what it was called.
So is the term direct marketing still relevant in a world where a new generation of marketers are embracing the likes of mobile, search, email, online, Twitter and Facebook? Do they know they are doing ‘direct marketing’ or are they, like the industry’s founding fathers, unaware of what it’s called?
Well, surely it’s time for the DM industry to come out fighting; take ownership of digital techniques and reinforce the effectiveness of more traditional DM media? After all, according to trade body the Direct Marketing Association UK, the industry contributes £205bn to the UK economy and directly employs more than 1 million people, so something must be going right.
All too often DM practitioners have been shrinking violets. While those in adland “talk the talk and walk the walk”, and digital agencies wow clients with the latest gizmo, many people in DM have been reluctant to spread the word for fear of being labelled ‘junk mailers’ or purveyors of ‘shit that folds’.
Bizarrely there are still those who actually believe DM is simply direct mail, although they are as outdated as the Wikipedia description. There’s little doubt direct marketing is one of the most effective ways to build and maintain strong customer relationships, tailoring communications – both off and online – to people’s preferences, so why is it still the world’s best kept secret?
Here at DecisionMarketing, we are committed to providing a platform for the industry, providing the latest news, views and campaign reviews (and a smattering of gossip) across the myriad platforms direct marketing operates. So, whether you are in data, search, email, affiliate marketing, online, direct mail, print, postal affairs, telemarketing, DRTV, press, radio, et al, this is your site. Spread the word among your colleagues, whether they work in a client company, agency or supplier. As Lord Kitchener might well have said: “Your industry needs you…”
Charlie McKelvey, publishing editor