What is Direct Marketing (History & Origins of The Name)

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The term behind “direct marketing” has a particularly rich history. Knowing the organic origins and what it actually stands for and represents could help make you to become a better marketer.

We all know advertising changes, mediums and outlets are evolving at unprecedented speeds and is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

As soon as you become a Direct Marketer PRO, you will start to see how direct response and digital marketing are merging into direct marketing. It is in your best interest to become a professional direct marketer , but first lets talk about how the process of marketing directly to constantly contacted consumers began and the progress in which we all need to adapt and adjust in futuristic terms.

Where does it all begin?

A man named Lester Wunderman invented the term “direct marketing,” while giving a speech to a famous club in New York. The top of the top mail order advertisers were present in his speech. Many of them did not like his definition of direct marketing.

His definition of direct marketing was “a new and more efficient method of selling, based on scientific advertising principles and serviced by increasingly more automated warehousing, shipping and collection techniques.”

This particular definition was unknown until he mentioned it again 10 years later at MIT.

Wunderman using the ideas of Kant and a book named “I and Thou,” he led the movement of what is now known as modern marketing.

His talk was in sharp contrast of the industrial revolution mindset of mass production and mass marketing. Instead, he emphasized the individual’s desires among a new culture.

According to him, mass produced goods were…

“goods produced without orders for customers unknown. Disposing of that inventory required mass distributors and retailers who would buy the finished products in bulk and then try to sell them. General advertising tried to persuade these consumers to buy these mass products, and mass persuasion soon replaced traditional, individualized service.”

The solution that Wunderman came up with is to eliminate the distributors and put the producer and customer into direct contact.

Wunderman stated that modern direct marketing is reconnecting the producer and the consumer. Through science and raw data you get ever increasing automated systems as a result.

The definition of direct marketing within this context is having a direct connection with your customer.

And even simpler if you know what your consumer wants – you’re using direct marketing.

Examples of direct marketing would be emails, SMS marketing, telemarketing, social media, direct media, video marketing and so forth.

Examples that are not direct marketing are TV advertisements, SEO, affiliate marketing, content marketing and so forth. The reasons why it’s not direct marketing is because the intent of the marketing is for a mass audience.

The Misunderstanding

There has been significant confusion about how direct marketing was different from mail order advertising. The rise of commenting systems has only increased the confusion.

Fortunately, Wunderman is still actively contributing to the world of advertising and is constantly explaining the true semantics behind the term direct marketing.

The ideas behind the correct definition is extremely useful and relevant to marketers today.

Many marketing techniques out there that is considered indirect can also be used on a personalized level and therefore direct. Due to this it only increases the confusion of the term. Any technique can be spun as indirect or direct depending on what your intent is.

How can Wunderman’s definition help you?

“The Online World provides information and enables personal interaction: it achieves the goal of direct marketing.”

Wunderman’s speech is what led the general public absorb the definition of direct marketing. He dreamed of a vision “a system of interactive transactions that would restore a measure of dialogue and human scale to the way we made, sold, and bought things.”

Consumers are hungry for this level of connection. What they truly want is individualized attention at a personal level. This used to exist before the Industrial Revolution – but now is slowly fading away.

Direct marketing helps us establish and maintain these connections to our customers.

Through, direct marketing we can achieve a personal relationship with our hungry customers who crave interaction.

Although, we now can obtain gigabytes of data that marketers in the past could fantasize about – consumers have wised up as well.

“The Digital Era is providing consumers with the power to take many of the actions that used to be exclusive to marketers. As a result, we must learn to listen effectively as much as possible or risk the consequences of not doing so.

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