Media and Direct Marketing Essay

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Organizations  and individuals seeking to reach a target audience have a growing array of media choices. While traditional approaches involving media such as newspapers, magazines, television, and radio are associated with reaching relatively large audiences, there are many other approaches such as e-mail, telephone, fax, and direct  mail that  may also be used to reach target audiences of substantial size, but which are also associated much more with efforts to elicit and obtain a measurable  response  from those within the target audience. This latter characteristic  is an essential element  of direct  marketing  and, further,  is becoming increasingly prevalent  as a result of increased  availability and use of specialized databases.  Ultimately, however, virtually any media can be used for direct marketing, also referred to as direct response marketing, provided there is an element of communication that asks the member  of the target audience to take some  specific action.  Whether   the  action  involves calling a telephone  number,  visiting a Web  site, or returning  a completed  form by mail, the main benefit  achieved  from  a  direct  marketing  initiative  is that it enables the response from the communication approach to be measured directly and often relatively quickly. A growing interest among marketers in being able to evaluate more  readily both  the effectiveness and efficiency of any given communication effort is clearly one reason why direct marketing is one of the most popular marketing  approaches  of any available to marketers today.

Beyond measurability, a further benefit of the use of media involving a direct marketing approach is the ability to tailor message content. For example, a car dealership seeking to promote interest in its new car models may find it beneficial not only to mail postcards to all of its past customers by name but also to tailor the message to each given the dealership’s detailed knowledge of the customer’s past car purchase including the purchase timing, price, and benefits sought.

Whether   an  organization   or  individual  finds  a direct marketing approach to be most beneficial relative  to  other  communication approaches  can  also depend on the characteristics of any offering involved as well as consumer  attitudes  and preferences. Some consumers,  for example, may consider  a large-scale direct  mail campaign  that  has a 1 percent  response rate  as wasteful  while other  consumers  subject  to telemarketing  by a firm may view the  approach  as being  intrusive.  Even so, there  are  ways in  which marketers  can manage  their  media and direct  marketing choices so as to increase consumer  receptivity to such approaches,  such as when consumers  are initially given a choice of voluntarily “opting in” to a system where they will receive subsequent,  periodic communications via e-mail, mobile phone text message, or posted  mail. Alternatively, consumers  may be able to “opt out” of a direct  marketing  approach upon request. Either way, an additional consideration in the management  of media and direct marketing is ensuring there is conformance to legal and regulatory requirements relating to the use of customer information (e.g., sharing customer  information  with a third party)—something  that  may be clearly facilitated to the extent  that  recipients  of direct  marketing  grant permission to those initiating such approaches.

Beyond legal and regulatory  requirements involving consumer  information,  there  may also be issues related to the nature of the products or services offered that demand attention and understanding by organizations or individuals seeking to engage in direct contact with current or prospective customers. In particular, in product  markets where the relationship  between consumers  and manufacturers or other  organizations  is typically indirect, such as in the pharmaceuticals industry where doctors are important professional intermediaries  between  pharmaceutical firms  and  patients, there  may be both  opportunities and restrictions  in pursuing  what is termed  direct-to-consumer  marketing, an approach that is increasing in prevalence where there  is direct  communication between  consumers and manufacturers and other  organizations.  Such an approach has the potential to educate consumers about a firm’s offerings to a far greater extent than is possible or likely through  intermediaries and, hence, another potential  benefit of direct  marketing  more  generally, although certainly not all direct-to-consumer marketing involves an effort to elicit a consumer response that can be easily assessed.

Ultimately, the media and associated message content and strategy chosen by the individual or organization seeking to engage in direct marketing must balance the short and long-term objectives of the communication with the costs and benefits involved. To be sure, some direct marketing approaches are only increasing in cost (e.g., door-to-door marketing as a result of the associated  labor  expense)  while others  are  predictably decreasing in cost (e.g., voice mail marketing that involves the  use  of telecommunications  equipment and networks as a one-way medium for communicating indirectly  with consumers  by leaving automated voice messages on voice mail systems/answering machines). When  one considers the possibility that multiple  media  and  direct  marketing  approaches can ultimately be used in combination  for synergistic effects, the communicator engaging in any aspect of global business can be seen as having an increasingly rich set of methods and strategies to employ in the pursuit of customer value creation and competitive advantages.


  1. Ming Cheung, “‘Click  Here’: The Impact of New Media on the Encoding of Persuasive Messages in Direct Marketing,” Discourse Studies (v.10/2, 2008);
  2. Scott G. Dacko, The Advanced Dictionary of Marketing: Putting Theory to Use (Oxford University Press, 2008);
  3. L. Nash and D. Jackson, Direct Marketing: Strategy, Planning, and Execution (McGraw-Hill, 2000);
  4. J. Nowak and J. Phelps, “Direct Marketing and the Use of Individual-Level Consumer Information: Determining How and When ‘Privacy’ Matters,” Journal of Direct Marketing (v.11/4, 1997);
  5. Stone, Successful Direct Marketing Methods (NTC Business Books, 1996);
  6. Tapp, Principles of Direct and Database Marketing (Financial Times Pitman Publishing, 1998).

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