Sales and marketing is often (falsely) understood as more or less the same. A company wants to sell its products in a (B2B) business to business sales process, or they want to sell directly to the consumers. However, direct sales and direct marketing is not the same!

But what exactly is Direct Marketing? Well, if you ask this question then you will most likely get several contradicting answers. Even more likely, you will get some very angry answers from people who are strongly against direct marketing. And those who are against direct marketing will call direct marketing mails for Junk Mail.
However, direct marketing can be a very effective marketing tool, and if a direct marketing campaign is planned and performed correctly, then the seller as well as the consumer can benefit.

So, what is Direct Marketing?
Well, Direct Marketing is basically a marketing activity in which the seller is hoping for an action from the recipient of the direct marketing campaign, i.e. direct response marketing.

What is sent in a direct mail marketing campaign? It can be a postal mail sent to all who lives in a particular area, or it can be postal mails sent to selected addressees obtained from a direct marketing mailing list. The list can be bought from direct mail list brokers. The seller can produce and send all the mails self, or they can hire direct mail marketing companies, who will do all the work.

What is the normal response that the seller is hoping that the receiver of the direct marketing mail will do? Well, some sellers are hoping to get direct orders, but it doesn't have to be a direct sale. Many companies with successful direct marketing solutions use it to get response, asking for more information, or arrange a personal call from a sales representative.

Different types of direct marketing
Direct marketing can be performed several different ways, and it is important that the seller selects the 'right method to the right target'. What goes well for one product might be a disaster for another. And there are great differences in the response patterns in (B2B) business to business direct marketing, and direct marketing to consumers (There can even be a big difference in the response from consumers in different geographical areas, even though the product and price is the same).
One of the advantages of direct marketing is that it is very easy to test the different methods (It is even easy to test variations of the marketing material, products, and prices.)

Direct Marketing Ideas:
Direct Mail Marketing. For several decades direct mails have been common as a method of direct marketing. There are two important things to observe in order to get good results:
1) Send the right material representing the product and your company the right way (Flashy and very colorful offers with a lot of hype and last minute special offers are very rarely the best).
2) Get a proper direct marketing mailing list. (It is not the quantity of the addresses but the quality that is important.
If the two issues are dealt with properly, then the result will come, and an extra benefit is that fewer of the recipients will regard the mail as a Junk Mail. And it is even a benefit that the costs of the campaign have become more reasonable by avoiding too many unwanted mails.

Direct Mail Marketing Postcards. If the idea behind your direct marketing campaign is that you simply want a phone call from the recipient, then a postcard might be the right solution. If you are mailing to a very selective and limited mailing list, then it might even be a great idea to make hand written direct mail marketing postcards, - and in any case the postage on the postcards should be real stamps.

Email marketing. The Internet has changed direct marketing in many ways, - most of all it has become so easy (and cheap) to send thousands of mails in a few minutes. This has caused a lot of frustration because many of those who make online direct marketing campaigns believe that if they only send a lot of mails, then they will get results (what they forget is that all the irrelevant mails have caused a negative effect too). In order to plan an effective direct Email marketing campaign then the same two rules apply as in the Postal Direct Mail Marketing, i.e. the right email to the right address (And remember that to spam is illegal).

Telemarketing. Some products and services are better marketed by means of telemarketing, but again it is important that the direct marketing campaign is aimed at relevant consumers or business prospects. If the telemarketing campaign isn't targeted, but the calls are merely made to almost random phone numbers, then the result will only be high marketing costs and very little sales. On the other hand, if the phone numbers are selected carefully, then the result will be high sales, and even at the same time the telemarketing campaign will give valuable market research information.

Voicemail marketing. A variation of Telemarketing is voicemail marketing. This method should be implemented with great caution, or it is at risk to be seen as 'phone spam'. However, voicemail can be a very effective method in a combination with other direct marketing methods, e.g. Direct Mail Marketing.

Marketing by means of Leaflets and Couponing. A variation of Direct Mail Marketing is the distribution of Leaflets and Coupons in a geographical area. This can be very effective in local business, and the costs are much lower than ordinary postal mail.

Direct Marketing Tips. Before you make a major direct marketing campaign, then there are three things you must do: Test, Test, and Test! One of the biggest advantages of direct marketing is that you can make several smaller tests of which mails and brochures that give the best result. You can even test the sales result of the same product at different quantities and prices.
Or maybe you want to participate in direct marketing seminars, or take contact to consultants from direct marketing companies before you make the testing yourself.