There are a range of types of direct marketing tactics that businesses can use to reach their target audience. Each direct marketing tactic requires particular skills – you should consider whether you have these in-house. It might make sense for you to outsource certain activities.
Types of direct marketing include:
- Direct mail - this involves sending information to customers and potential customers by post. This type of direct marketing work best with a high quality, targeted mailing list. Sending mail to a less targeted list means it is more likely to be received by someone who is not interested and considers it to be junk mail. See direct mail.
- Leaflet drops and handouts - these tactics are less targeted than direct mail, but can be cheaper and easier to carry out. Leaflet drops involve posting unaddressed leaflets to all residents in a particular area. A leaflet handout campaign means giving printed information directly to people on the street. Some recipients may consider your leaflets to be junk mail. See leaflet drops and handouts.
- Telemarketing - this allows you to converse with the consumer by phoning them and speaking to them directly. This lets you gauge their interest and employ direct sales techniques. However, many consumers can find this type of marketing intrusive. See telemarketing.
- Email marketing - this is one of the cheapest and most effective kinds of direct marketing. It’s easy to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns and test new ideas to improve. The downside is that consumers often receive high volumes of emails and yours may be ignored. See email marketing.
- SMS/text message marketing is more likely to be read than emails, but consumers may find it more intrusive. This may work best for existing customers as unsolicited messages could be seen as spam. See m-commerce and mobile marketing.
It’s important to evaluate the pros and cons of each direct marketing method and choose what works best for your business.
In-house and outsourced direct marketing
Before starting a direct marketing campaign, consider whether you can do it in-house or whether you need to enlist the help of outside specialists.
If you're preparing basic leaflets for door drops or creating a simple email campaign, you can probably write and lay them out in-house. However, your message must be presented well if your campaign is to be a success. If you're unsure of your in-house copywriting or design skills, saving money on a DIY job is likely to be a false economy.
Outsourcing telemarketing can be useful if you don’t have the staffing resources in-house. The downside is that you will have less control.
For best results you may want to use a marketing or advertising agency or consultant. They offer a range of skills, including:
- planning campaigns
- setting budgets
- finding your target audience
- creating materials
- managing the distribution process
You can search for a direct-marketing specialist with the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).
Read more about how to choose, manage and work with an advertising agency.
A cheaper option may be to outsource elements of your campaign. For example, you could pay a freelance copywriter to prepare the wording of your messages or commission a graphic designer to work on the visual side.