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The Pros and Cons of Direct Marketing

Direct marketing is a marketing approach that has been around for decades. Like the name implies, this type of marketing essentially involves advertisers directly approaching prospective customers or clients in order to get them to use their services or products. While it can be extremely effective, some people regard it as somewhat controversial. The reason for this is because the approach can sometimes be intrusive or unwanted.

For example, one of the most widely used but most intrusive methods of direct marketing is telemarketing. Sales staff call potential customers at home pitching their company's product or service. Not only is it typically a hard sell approach, but many consumers find it annoying because the calls often occur at an inopportune time such as dinner time. This led to the implementation of the "Do Not Call" registry, which allows consumers to put their phone number on the "do not call" list. Telemarketers, by law, are not allowed to call any number on that list.

Another type of direct marketing which has become increasingly popular as more and more people are online is email marketing. While some emails are solicited by the consumer, many are not. Spam emails have become an ever-growing nuisance to consumers as their email addresses are frequently sold and distributed to unscrupulous marketers.

Other types of direct marketing methods include direct mail, coupons, catalogs, and brochures to name a few. Just like with email, databases of consumers’ addresses, phone numbers and other contact information are shared with or sold to and by various companies which specialize in direct marketing.

Direct marketing is generally the most effective when an individual knowingly gives out their personal information in order to receive information from a particular company or a certain type of company.

Direct marketing is often used by a company when more typical types of marketing such as newspapers, television commercials, and radio ads are not the most cost-effective way to reach their target market. If their target market is very specific or narrow, they can get a list of consumers who fit the particular desired demographic and market to them directly.

These consumer lists may be obtained in various ways. For example, if you filled out a form at your grocery store to win a cash prize, that information may be sold to a direct marketing company. Since those forms often include your birth date and your address, a direct marketing company can now target you based on your age or location.

Direct marketing is generally the most effective when an individual knowingly gives out their personal information in order to receive information from a particular company or a certain type of company. Because they are giving their consent to receive that information, they are already showing interest in the types of products or services which that type of company provides.

Unfortunately, many consumers are not aware that when they give out information to one company it may be given or sold to other companies. Before they know it they are bombarded with all sorts of catalogs, coupons, mail pieces, and telemarketing calls. Some consumers will respond favorably to these marketing tactics and end up making a purchase. However, many people will simply throw the mailings away or ignore the calls, resulting in a lot of wasted resources and money on the part of the direct marketing company. Also, while most of the companies are legitimate, there are always a few which are not. An unsuspecting consumer can become the victim of fraud if he or she is not careful.

When direct marketing is used appropriately and wisely it can be a very powerful form of marketing. More and more direct marketing companies give consumers the option to unsubscribe from their marketing list, either by email or making a phone call for example. By doing this, they don't waste their resources on consumers who aren't interested in their products and services. And consumers will view them in a more favorable light.