Direct marketing refers to a system of marketing by which organizations communicate directly with target customers to generate a response and/or a transaction. Traditionally, direct marketing has not been considered an element of the promotional mix. However, because it has become such an integral part of the integrated marketing communications program of many organizations and often involves separate objectives, budgets, and strategies, we view direct marketing as a component of the promotional mix.
While there is often a tendency to equate direct marketing with direct mail and the use of mail-order catalogs, there is much more to this form of promotion. It involves the use of a variety of activities, including direct selling, telemarketing, and direct-response advertisements through direct mail and various broadcast and print media.
Direct-selling and marketing companies often rely solely on direct marketing to sell their products and services. However, direct-marketing tools and techniques are also being used by companies that distribute their products through traditional distribution channels or have their own sales force. Direct marketing plays a very big role in the integrated marketing communication programs of consumer products companies and business-to-business marketers.
These companies spend billions of dollars each year to call customers directly and attempt to sell them products and services or to qualify them as sales leads. Marketers send out direct-mail pieces ranging from simple letters and fliers to detailed brochures and videotapes to communicate with potential customers and provide them with information about their products or services. Direct-marketing techniques are used by companies to distribute product samples or to target users of a competitive brand of a product or service.