Direct Marketing Integration: Recognizing Strengths & Limitations of Different Tools


Your-mailing-isnt-finished-when--it-hits-the-mailboxIt’s important to use the right tool for the right purpose. Everybody knows that if your want to make an omelet; you have to break some eggs. But you probably wouldn’t use pliers to do it. It’s inefficient. You’d end up with a mess on your hands and egg shells everywhere (including in the omelet). It’s just not the right tool for the job.

The same is true when it comes to direct marketing. There are a variety of tools you can use; and each has its strengths and limitations. Successful marketers integrate their various marketing tools. We’ll highlight just a few tools and talk about their respective strengths and limitations.

Direct Mail

Direct mail has been around a long time and has a distinguished track record. It’s personal (you send it to an individual). It’s tangible (it’s something you hold in your hand and—perhaps—keep around for later. It can evoke emotion (if appropriate and properly done). It’s a good tool for acquiring leads. Some of the downsides to direct mail include the fact that it’s expensive (there’s design, printing, mailing, and postage), and it’s comparatively slow (it can take days or weeks to properly execute a direct mail program). That means it’s not as good for following up on leads or for updating critical information quickly and easily.


Email has been pronounced dead as a marketing tool many times. Part of that stems from the fact that it’s fast, inexpensive, and easy-to-use (all of which, by the way, are positive things). Unfortunately, those characteristics opened email up to a significant amount of abuse. Companies over-used it—and misused it. Email is not a good prospecting tool because it’s too easy to ignore and discard. But if you’ve already established a relationship with someone, it’s low cost, speed, and ease of use makes it a great tool for follow-up. On top of that, it provides businesses with a simple and instantaneous way to pull readers back to a website or landing page for additional information.


Companies that blog generate a lot more website traffic and leads than companies that don’t blog. Blogging is relatively inexpensive. It’s fast. It’s not technically challenging, and the more you do it, the better chance you have to be found by your potential clients. Like email, you can use it easily to link readers back to your website. The downside of blogging is that you must have good content. That requires planning and execution. Some companies find that a burden and either hire outside help (an expense), or abandon their efforts after a short time.

Social Media

There are all kinds of social media (SM) platforms available. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest . . . the list goes on. One benefit of social media is that the potential is there to reach a huge audience inexpensively. SM can also create a sense of community among readers/viewers. It’s relatively inexpensive, and fast. As, with blogging, however, it requires planning and good content. And unlike blogging, it doesn’t allow companies to go into any depth. Of course smart use of SM involves linking to sites where abundant information is available.

So what’s right for your particular situation? One key is to use the various tools for the right reasons. Don’t use email to prospect and don’t use direct mail to follow up. Smart businesses employ a mix of tools—leveraging each tool’s strength. Savvy marketers also pay attention to which tools their audience uses most. If your audience doesn’t tweet, don’t waste your time and money on Twitter.

Above all, keep track of your results. You can’t tell if something works unless you track your results. It doesn’t matter whether something is cool or cutting edge if it doesn’t work. And that’s the only true way to decide which tool works in your situation.

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