16 Pros and Cons of Direct Marketing

The evidence is in: highly targeted marketing is still effective. When you interrupt what someone is doing to present them with a clear, precise message, it impacts them in a positive way if they are interested in what is being presented. Sure – there is the negative aspect of the interruption which can be bothersome to both parties, but the positive vibes from a solid value proposition cancel out those negative feelings.

The pros and cons of direct marketing will always focus on how annoying it is to receive a phone call while eating dinner or receiving a dozen items of “junk mail” in the mailbox, but there is more to this process than just the negative feelings it can create. Here are the key points to consider.

What Are the Pros of Direct Marketing?

1. Direct marketing gives you options.
You’re not locked into one specific format when you decide to use direct marketing. You can choose to contact people through direct mail, by telephone, through direct advertising, or even online. You can door-to-door passing out brochures or you can write emails to people to discuss your value propositions. When you’ve got options, you’ve got opportunities.

2. Direct marketing provides people with specific product information.
You’re able to present a targeted sales opportunity in a way that allows people to think about the offered value proposition. You’re giving them the information they need to make a meaningful decision in an environment that is comfortable to them, like their home or their office.

3. Direct marketing offers the opportunity to answer questions.
Up to 90% of the research a prospect needs to do to feel comfortable with a product will be done on an individual basis. They’ll look you up online, compare you to the competition, and check your reputation. That last 10% can be taken care of when they contact you using the direct marketing information you’ve sent them. This gives you a much more productive method of creating a sale.

4. Direct marketing allows you to take a personal approach.
Nothing establishes relationships better than a one-on-one conversation. It’s why a smile and a handshake have been so powerful in the business world over the years. Writing a personalized letter to someone may not be the same as shaking a person’s hand, but the end result can be the same if you do it right. Or make a personal phone call. Or schedule an appointment with a prospect to discuss how what you’ve got can solve problems for them.

5. Direct marketing is still affordable.
If you’re trying to drum up some local business, you can’t beat how affordable it can be to do some direct marketing. How much does it cost to pick up the phone and call someone? Or how much would it cost for you to print up a few brochures on your own printer to distribute throughout a neighborhood? If you’re a small business looking to grow market share, there are very few opportunities to show how you can meet needs and match desires with such a small investment.

6. Direct marketing allows you to be accurate.
With the right metrics and key performance indicators in place, you can know with certainty how effective your direct marketing campaigns happen to be. You’ll know what people are impacted by your activities and how they were impacted. You can evaluate responses and adapt accordingly. Very few marketing styles give you the depth of response information that direct marketing is able to provide.

7. Direct marketing takes out the problematic middle.
Sometimes you can do everything right, but have third parties in the mix mess up your reputation for you. Direct marketing cuts out the problematic middle because it puts you into direct contact with the prospects that can eventually become your customers. This means you have more control over the message that each individual receives with your marketing efforts.

8. Direct marketing allows you to do it all on your own.
You don’t need to have an extensive team supporting you to begin direct marketing. One person with a computer and a printer can create marketing materials to contact potential customers. With little to no overhead and only minor investments required as well, the ROI from a direct marketing effort can wind up being very positive, even if response rates tend to be somewhat low.

What Are the Cons of Direct Marketing?

1. Direct marketing can target many people who have no interest.
Many companies end up sending direct marketing opportunities to people who have no interest in what is actually being offered. When that’s an email, then it is called spam. When it’s in the mailbox, it’s called junk. When it comes to your budget, it’s called a waste of money. People will just delete items, throw them away, or hang up on you.

2. Direct marketing is often uninvited.
This type of marketing almost always interrupts potential customers. Many times the experience feels to the customer like you’re trying to talk them into purchasing something that they really do not want. In the past, this type of marketing was so intrusive that registries were created so people could stop marketers from contacting them. You might get the attention of a prospect, but if you don’t create a strong value proposition, the chances are good that you’ll have created a negative experience from the encounter.

3. Direct marketing can often look very cluttered.
This is especially true for certain emails or direct mail efforts that are made today. It’s like looking at a blog which has four columns. You really don’t know where to start looking first. When that happens, the confusion which begins within the mind of the prospect will cause them to give up on the opportunity that has been presented.

4. Direct marketing often has very low response rates.
It isn’t unusual for the response rates of direct marketing to hover at 1-3%. It’s interesting, however, that this tends to be the same conversion rates for some online marketing efforts as well, but we seen 3% online as a positive and 3% direct as a negative. Sure – if customers are not interested, then they won’t be interested and you’ve wasted time and money. From that perspective, low response rates can be difficult to take.

5. Direct marketing takes up a lot of time.
If you’re creating a personalized message to everyone you’re contacting on a marketing list, then it’s going to be a time investment. Although this is an effective strategy to implement, you might find yourself writing hundreds of messages or making thousands of phone calls. Add in the time it takes to build trust through these methods and you’ve got even more time that you’ve got to invest.

6. Direct marketing can make negativity spread quickly.
Ever notice how misery loves company? People tend to share negative experiences more often because they are unexpected. You can do everything right and not receive a positive review because a customer is expecting you to meet their needs and you do. The instant you don’t meet that “obligation,” then the negative experience is shared. Then it spreads because others start talking about their negative experiences. Because you’re interrupting people with most direct marketing efforts, that negativity can then be enhanced as well.

7. Direct marketing requires a lot of patience and consistency.
The fact is people are going to take advantage of a good offer if they receive it, but then not pony up the full cost of the product later on for a variety of reasons. You’ll see a lot of potential prospects end up being people who decided that what you were offering wasn’t good enough. When that happens consistently, even the best direct marketers sometimes feel like maybe now is the time to give up. If you don’t have patience or it is difficult to find consistency within your brand message, then this might not be the marketing style to use.

8. Direct marketing always requires a warm market to begin.
For many new businesses, this means marketing to their family and friends. Any current customers you have are also included in this mix. The hope is that these folks will become brand ambassadors for you. The reality is that always talking to your core people can put you into a very uncomfortable position.

In Conclusion

The pros and cons of direct marketing show that when you give this method an opportunity to succeed, you’ll often find new opportunities awaiting you at some point in the future. There will be disadvantages to overcome, maybe more than in other marketing efforts, but the positives can really help you to improve your available business opportunities.

What have your experiences been using direct marketing? We’d love to hear some of your success stories and your advice for those who might be considering direct marketing for the first time.

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