Direct marketing is an approach to marketing that involves the company knowing precisely who its customers are, understanding that not everybody is a customer, communicating in relevant ways with customers and prospects, enhancing and refining the relevance of the communications and doing all of the above through a database. Successful direct marketing can be accomplished with any and all combinations of media and distribution channels. Direct marketing is not, therefore, a medium, nor is it a channel, nor is it a methodology; it is a comprehensive approach to marketing and to identifying and serving the needs of customers.
Direct marketing is like advertising in a number of respects. Properly used, it can reinforce the brand values created and maintained by advertising. Like advertising it is also an above-the-line expenditure since it represents actual outlays as opposed to sacrificing profit. In both of these respects direct marketing is different from sales promotion which is a 'below-the-line' expenditure which may erode brand values if used excessively.
In a similar vein selling is a dynamic two-way communication which provides information in a flexible way which can be adapted to the specific needs of customers. The difference is that the personal involvement of a salesperson is present in selling. Selling is part of the communications mix but is much more focused than mass communications like advertising. It is customized as occurs in direct marketing but performed by an individual or a team in personal contact with customers. Managing the selling process means understanding and agreeing the roles and tasks of the sales force such as prospecting, communicating, negotiating, collecting information and servicing accounts.
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Co-op Mailing means that two or more businesses share in the cost and distribution of a direct mail campaign. It's kind of like having you and another non-competing business split the cost of printing, assembling and mailing an advertising flyer to a shared same market base.