At TMR Direct, we call ourselves a “Direct Mail and Direct Marketing Company.” I know this because it says so right on our home page! But just what is “direct” marketing, and what role does direct mail have in the process?
Years ago, some businesses used to tout the fact that, “We eliminate the middleman,” meaning that customers could deal directly with the manufacturer. The implication was that goods and services were less costly because the fee paid to the middleman (the retailer) was eliminated.
There’s a lot more to direct marketing, however, than simply “cutting out the middleman and passing the savings on to you.” The real beauty of direct marketing is that it allows businesses to talk directly to potential clients about the things that important to those clients. Customers don’t have to wander through a virtual (or brick and mortar) department store to find what they really want. They can go directly to the source and get the information that matters to them.
The Internet, of course, has played a huge and defining role in this process. Customers have access to all the information they want right at their fingertips. They don’t have to engage a salesperson (who is supposed to be an “expert” about all kinds of things). Instead, customers can go directly to the source and get in-depth information about what matters most to them. The Web allows companies and customers to interact with one another directly. Smart companies learn to be conversational on their websites—encouraging dialogue with potential customers. That’s something conventional advertising has never been able to do.
While the Internet seems limitless, it does have its limitations when it comes to marketing. It’s kind of big. The most recent Google estimates put the number of web pages at around 47 billion. That’s a lot of pages to sort through to find the information you’re looking for.
So how does a business take advantage of the conversational nature of the Web when there are so many potential conversations going on at one time? How do you help the people you really want to be talking to find you among the 47 billion pages of material that’s out there?
One way to achieve that is by integrating your online direct efforts with a somewhat more “mature” form of direct marketing: direct mail. With direct mail you can identify—and communicate specifically with—potential customers who want what you have to offer. You can reach them where they live or where they work with a targeted message that lets them know exactly where to go for the information they want. They don’t have to go through the “needle-in-the-haystack” experience of searching through countless pages on the Internet to find you. If you’re observant and pay attention to who your audience is, you can craft a specific message that links them to exactly the information they’re after.
And rather than just directing them to your home page (where they might wander around and leave before connecting with you), you can take them to a specific landing page that offers them exactly the information they want. That’s direct marketing. You get to speak directly to the people you want to reach and you get to take them directly to the specific information they want.
Direct marketing isn’t just about “cutting out the middleman and passing the savings on to you.” It’s about talking directly to your potential customers about the things they want to know. And it’s about giving them direct access to the kind of information that will turn them from visitors into leads and eventually into customers. And direct mail is just one of the tools you have at your disposal to make that happen.