Defining Direct Marketing

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As noted in Chapter 1, direct marketing is a system of marketing by which organizations communicate directly with target customers to generate a response or transaction. This response may take the form of an inquiry, a purchase, or even a vote. In his Dictionary of Marketing Terms, Peter Bennett defines direct marketing as:

the total of activities by which the seller, in effecting the exchange of goods and services with the buyer, directs efforts to a target audience using one or more media (direct selling, direct mail, telemarketing, direct-action advertising, catalogue selling, cable TV selling, etc.) for the purpose of soliciting a response by phone, mail, or personal visit from a prospect or customer.2

First we must distinguish between direct marketing and direct-marketing media. As you can see in Figure 14-1, direct marketing is an aspect of total marketing—that is, it involves marketing research, segmentation, evaluation, and the like, just as our planning model in Chapter 1 did. Direct marketing uses a set of direct-response media, including direct mail, telemarketing, interactive TV, print, the Internet, and other media. These media are the tools by which direct marketers implement the communications process.

The purchases of products and services through direct-response advertising currently exceed $2 trillion and are projected to reach $2.8 trillion by the year 2006.3 Firms that use this marketing method range from major retailers such as the Gap, Restoration Hardware, and Victoria's Secret to publishing companies to computer retailers to financial services. Business-to-business and industrial marketers have also significantly increased their direct-marketing efforts, with an estimated $1.3 trillion in sales forecast by 2004.4

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