Direct marketing is a type of marketing that distinguishes from other kinds because of its two main defining characteristics. First, it attempts to send a personalized message directly to each customer and not a general message to all. It uses channels such as direct mail, e-mail marketing, or telemarketing. Second, it is focused on driving a specific "call-to-action." This aspect of direct marketing involves an emphasis on trackable, measurable analytics data of its results.
It is believed to have started in the year 1872 when Mr. Aaron Montgomery Ward, a Chicago-based business man, made a fortune by selling products to rural consumers through mail ordering.
The big advantages of direct marketing is that it can be personalized, and its results can be measured. Since direct marketing gets detailed and personalized information into consumer's hands without any effort on their part, it is a very effective way to advertise. And, since you can customize the list of people who get exposed to your advertising, it is a very efficient way to use your marketing money as well.
What you need to do in direct marketing is to create, or buy a good potential customers database. Only with a good database you will be able to achieve great results in your direct marketing campaign.
Take this for example, if you plan a campaign to attract athletes to participate in the race you are organizing (marathon, half marathon, and 10 kilometer races possibilities), it would be great if your database had data on which ones of the list usually participates in a full marathon, which usually goes for the half, and what prefer a not so longer race and opt for the 10 kilometer option. This way you could segment your direct marketing campaign into three different campaigns: one targeting the 10 kilometers, other the half marathon, and the last one targeting the people that most probably will opt for the full marathon.
When you have contacted your potential customers, the following thing you need to do it is to measure its response rate. The response rate is the specific number of people who have taken action and followed your suggestion to either buy, participate, visit, or whatever was your main goal for creating the direct marketing campaign. If you have contacted 100 people to participate on an event and 10 of them actually show interest, you would get a 10% response rate.
Direct marketing is good for brands that are not yet strong. It helps in increasing brand awareness and sales. As you contact the potential customers directly you have the opportunity to explain them your product strengths and why they should buy it. This cannot happen if you use other marketing strategies, as you will not have the opportunity to go into detail about your product strengths, and because you may face similar products with a well know brand next to your ads.