Are You Really Doing Direct Marketing
Nearly every Cosmopolitan ad includes a Web site and toll-free number. The cap on last night’s Smirnoff bottle urged me to a Web address to register and check a unique prize winning number. And e-mails from various marketers flood in to my inbox, each with a clickthrough to their Web site. The golden age of direct marketing clearly has arrived. At the same time, attendance and enthusiasm for local and national direct marketing trade shows seems pale compared to 20 years ago.
Has our “industry” become irrelevant because everyone now knows how to do direct marketing?
In the late 1970s, I was lured into the glamorous world of direct mail with the claims, “We know what marketing ideas are working. We know what is producing the most growth. We’re making money, and you can get full credit for your contribution.” But more important than any of these promises was, “We always test something.” At conference parties the question was, “How did you happen to get into direct mail?” No one planned a career in “junk” mail, there were no MBAs, few classes. You learned from someone who had been doing mailings for years or even decades.
Direct Marketing magazine was included in your Direct Mail Marketing Association (precursor to today’s Direct Marketing Association) membership. Founded in 1938, every issue contained the flagship definition “… an interactive system of marketing that uses one or more advertising media to effect a measurable response and/or transaction at any location.” The themes echoed through the pages of all the trade magazines: Direct marketing was important even to general advertisers, and direct marketing was scientific. Everyone should learn and practice some direct marketing in their advertising mix. I believe we have completely achieved what the industry pioneers hoped for. Every major advertiser is practicing what it believes to be direct marketing.