In mass marketing, consumer remains obscure and the segment stands significant for being addressed to. However, it is quite otherwise in case of direct marketing which deals with a particular individual developing a one-to-one relationship. Three basic properties characterize the direct marketing. Those properties are:
a.A customer is addressed to with a definite offer,
b.The decision-making is facilitated squarely as all the necessary information are made available, and
c.A mechanism is developed to respond to the offer.
The aforesaid properties are the indicators of benefit available from direct marketing. Direct marketing offers numerous benefits to both customers and business to business marketing. Home shopping is full of fun, it is convenient and hazard-free affair. It economises time and provides sufficient opportunity of selecting products of one’s choice for the merchandise base being larger, it facilitates comparative shopping through the consultation of mail catalogue and on-line shopping services. A customer can buy goods placing orders for himself and for others. The customers also benefit by gaining knowledge about products as available without wasting time with the salespersons. Thus, customers are becoming accustomed to personalised delivery.
Marketers engaged in direct marketing develop their products with the object of satisfying the needs of their customers. As the time of collecting necessary products has been tracted towards direct marketing.
regularly increasing, customers are increasingly getting atDirect marketers also find direct marketing attractive as they can build continuous relationship with each customer based on the mailing list containing the names of customers who are expected to be encompassed by the direct marketers’ marketing programme. It is also attractable to entrepreneurs and businessmen as the investment required for operating the business is considerably low. No specialised skills are required for operating the direct marketing.
Customer profiles are required to be data based. Customer reactions can be immediately reflected and necessary actions can be monitored. Returns are quick and its effectiveness can be easily analysed. Direct marketing can be effectively carried out reaching the prospects at the right moment, and the marketing material is well received as it is sent to prospects who are considered to be more interested. Direct marketing helps in testing alternative media and messages so as to select most cost-effective approach. Direct marketer’s offer and strategy remains obscure to a large extent to his competitors. The direct marketing helps the direct marketers measure responses to their campaigns and this in turn helps them decide the most profitable campaigns.
In this context, it may be pointed out that all these
benefits depend on trust. If there is any situation that has led to the incurring of distrust by any direct marketer for product’s messages and the overpricing the product, he is sure to find his business collapsed without elapsing much time.
A most interesting feature of direct marketing is the use of internet which has made the retail stores offer of millions of products on it. Browsing through the product list the customers can order from their homes without resorting to turbulent travels for the purpose. Naturally, businessmen can make their businesses grow by way of direct marketing on account of the presence of the internet.
Development of Direct Marketing
The idea of direct marketing is not a new one. Its
origin dates back to centuries, and its root is found in the mail-order business. Since the middle of the 19th century distinction is made between active or lapsed customers and unattended enquiries. Since the middle of the 19th century, a separate marketing approach would have been adopted for each distinct customer group. Three categories of direct marketing approach are now commonly adopted. Those are as follows:
(1) Stand-Alone Direct Marketing- This is regarded as the ultimate direct marketing approach in many ways.
The entities which employ this stand-alone direct marketing employ no other means to manage the relationship with their customers. Customers are usually recruited with the help of direct response press advertising or direct mailing, and thereafter, relationship is maintained by a combination of telephone and mail.
(2) Integrated Direct Marketing- The direct marketing is the part of an integrated marketing mix. Here direct marketing is regarded as complementing the other marketing activities undertaken. According to this approach, once customers are recruited direct marketing is employed to develop the value of these customers to the entity through ‘cross-selling’ other product-lines or asking them to ‘rec-ommend a friend’. For example, ‘Lifeline’, a water purification filter has adopted such an approach and in such casesbdirect marketing is an integral part of a very broad mix.
(3) Peripheral Direct Marketing- Those organisa-
tions, for which direct marketing is needed only as an occasional tactical marketing tool, are embraced by final category of direct marketing activity. The direct marketing is regarded as a peripheral activity when customer database is poorly developed. It may often be initiated as a ‘knee-jerk response’ to falling sales or a short-term response to competitive pressures. It will typically be employed for the recruitment of customers and customer retention and development will be all but ignored