This is a common question I see asked online and so I thought I’d take today’s post to answer it and provide some insight.
People sometimes lump all different kinds of marketing together without taking the time to realize that there are different techniques, each with a different set of goals and functions. Direct marketing, also referred to as direct response or DR, refers to a form of marketing directly to consumers that encourages a measurable action on their part.
The opposite is commonly known as branding. The major difference between the two is the goal of the campaign and, often, the size of the budget.
Direct marketing's major benefit is that it is measurable. One should be able to measure a direct cost per action. For example, you could say a certain campaign brings in new customers at a cost of $10 per customer; and each customer is worth $100 in revenue. With those numbers, you can measure the success of the campaign, and easily compare it to others. This is important for small businesses or those with smaller advertising budgets.
On the other hand, a branding campaign is broader, and not necessarily intended to create a direct response from the consumer. Think about television, billboards, and radio - the mass market advertising channels that may reach a wider audience, but are tougher to measure when it comes to direct impact on sales.
Both types of marketing have their advantages, but for smaller businesses looking to grow, direct marketing is often more profitable. And once you know the most successful campaigns, you can scale them up to grow your business more significantly.