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For distribution and retail sales of comic books, see direct market.
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" For example, an advertisement may ask the prospect to call a free phone number or click on a link to a website.
Direct marketing emphasizes trackable, measurable responses from customers — regardless of medium.
Direct marketing is practiced by businesses of all sizes — from the smallest start-up to the leaders on the Fortune 500. A well-executed direct advertising campaign can prove a positive return on investment by showing how many potential customers responded to a clear call-to-action. General advertising eschews calls-for-action in favor of messages that try to build prospects’ emotional awareness or engagement with a brand. Even well-designed general advertisements rarely can prove their impact on the organization’s bottom line.
Popularity of Direct Advertising
A recent study  by the Direct Marketing Association reports that in 2010, marketers – commercial and nonprofit – spent $153.3 billion on direct marketing, which accounted for 54.2% of all ad expenditures in the United States. Measured against total US sales, these advertising expenditures generated approximately $1.798 trillion in incremental sales. In 2010, direct marketing accounted for 8.3% of total US gross domestic product. Also in 2010, there were 1.4 million direct marketing employees in the US. Their collective sales efforts directly supported 8.4 million other jobs, accounting for a total of 9.8 million US jobs.
Mail order pioneer Aaron Montgomery Ward knew that by using the technique of selling products directly to the customer at appealing prices could, if executed effectively and efficiently, revolutionize the market industry and therefore be used as an innovative model for marketing products and creating customer loyalty. The term "direct marketing" was coined long after Montgomery Ward's time.
In 1967, Lester Wunderman identified, named, and defined the term "direct marketing". Wunderman — considered to be the father of contemporary direct marketing — is behind the creation of the toll-free 1-800 number and numerous loyalty marketing programs including the Columbia Record Club, the magazine subscription card, and the American Express Customer Rewards program.
In 1872, Aaron Montgomery Ward produced the first mail-order catalogue for his Montgomery Ward mail order business. By buying goods and then reselling them directly to customers, Ward was consequently removing the middlemen at the general store and, to the benefit of the customer, drastically lowering the prices. The Direct Mail Advertising Association, predecessor of the present-day Direct Marketing Association, was first established in 1917. Third class bulk mail postage rates were established in 1928.
Direct marketing is attractive to many marketers because its positive results can be measured directly. For example, if a marketer sends out 1,000 solicitations by mail and 100 respond to the promotion, the marketer can say with confidence that...