Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Mention direct marketing and most people’s first reaction is to cringe as they recall the multitude of offers they receive each week in their postbox. While that form of direct marketing does have a place, there’s another form of it that has a bit more impact and is far more memorable.

Consumers today are bombarded with so much marketing material that their brains have been hard-wired to retain only what is pertinent to them, or what cuts through the clutter and stands out.

Direct marketing can talk directly to the consumer. If the communication approaches the consumer in an engaging manner, it has the ability to build top-of-mind brand awareness, and even better, get them to use the service or buy the product.

The big take-out:

 Done correctly, direct marketing can be memorable and have a positive effect on the brand.

The success of direct marketing as a medium depends first and foremost on the quality of the database. Is the database aligned with the target market? If so, is it current and up to date? Plenty of software options are available for database and customer relationship management that will eliminate a lot of the administration needed to keep databases up to date and accurate.

Direct marketing is not mass marketing. Rather, it is about connecting the marketer directly with the end user –  either a consumer or a business. As a term, it covers a variety of marketing tools that cuts out the intermediary in advertising, including Internet marketing, face-to-face selling, direct mail, catalogues, telemarketing, direct-response advertising, and even kiosk marketing.

A personal favourite is direct mail. A cut-through direct mail piece can really connect with the receiver. And more often than not, when done well it will be shared with others because of its ingenuity. But more importantly, it will get people to take action: make a phone call, pay a visit to a website, make an appointment, visit a store (think discount coupon or free service) or even complete an order form.

A great example of this is a simple, direct mail piece by Kit Kat Chunky in the UK:

This piece of communication demonstrates a connection to the product benefit in that it could not be delivered because it is too “Chunky”, and even more importantly, the recipient has to go  to the shop to claim his or her free chocolate, which will undoubtedly lead to additional purchases there.

The piece is cost efficient and personalised. The copy even looks hand written, but this is merely because of the use of variable data technology and smart typeface application.

The additional benefit to this sort of marketing approach is measurability. It is extremely easy to track redemption to determine success.

So, next time you think of direct marketing, consider the benefits it may hold for your brand and your business. The results may just surprise you.

 * MacKenzie is managing director of Boomtown.

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