Let's Go All the Way Back to
by Ray Jutkins
The base for this article comes originally from my
early experiences in direct marketing. Going back to the 1970s and '80s.
Then, not long ago, a happening of long ago was recalled. A one time
common experience was repeated. And I was reminded, as we kiss the 21st
Century, of just how far the Direct Marketing industry still needs to
I was attending a small conference. And met a young public relations
freelancer. She asked what I did. And I responded (hey, that's what DM is
all about - response!) I'm in the direct marketing business. As a partner in
an agency that stages seminars, does marketing programs and consults with
Her immediate reply was "Oh, you're the guys that send me all that 'junk
mail'". A statement ... not a question.
When I said "No," there was a puzzled pause on her face. She, and still
scores of thousands of others think Direct Marketing is the adult word for
direct mail. Which it is not.
Which is why these words from the past are being sailed in your direction
again. Greatly revised from the original, still foundation thoughts.
There are a handful of direct marketing "tactical" tools. Let's look at
To begin, may I share with you my definition of our industry: Direct
Marketing is a process using various media to affect a measurable response
in a specific marketplace.
Okay, what does this say? What does it mean. As with the disciplines of
public relations, advertising, sales promotion and merchandising, more than
one avenue is walked to achieve a marketing objective.
And yes, direct mail is one of those tools. Frequently still the largest,
certainly the best known. It's been around the longest.
In fact, rarely in my experiences with clients has a program been
developed where direct mail did not play some part. Small or large, some
Mail is being used to generate the first action - a lead, traffic to a
site, a phone call ... something. Mail is being used to handle fulfillment
of literature, brochures, sales materials. Mail is the means to deliver the
product. By mail your customer receives a confirmation of an order, a
"thank-you", an invoice.
Direct mail has been, is and will continue to play a major role in direct
marketing. It is a factor for a number of reasons.
Direct mail allows you to target a specific audience. That is easier
today than ever, yet still not always "clean". And obviously the single most
important factor in direct marketing - getting your message to the right
With direct mail you can reach your best prospects and your best
customers. You can talk to only a specific type of client. Along with your
advertising and PR you can build on the image, awareness, position and
interest levels of your companies products and services.
Direct mail is a superb tool to gain a lead for your sales reps or
telemarketing team. It is a wonderful way to build traffic at your trade
show stand, special fair, local store or shop.
When I was formally introduced to what direct mail can really do it was
by guru Bob Hemmings. Bob called mail "the assistant salesman". Meaning it
can be there when your sales rep cannot. Covering for you. That concept is
alive and well today. It is still true today.
Direct mail asks your marketplace to allow your sales people to give a
demonstration, to make a presentation. It follows up with details. It
confirms the next step, and the trans-action. It says "thank-you".
So yes, direct mail is a key player - still today! - in the direct
marketing success story.
Another media tool often used by direct marketers is print. Newspapers
and especially highly targeted, vertical magazines. Publications with a
specific purpose, aimed at a specific audience.
Speciality magazines are an excellent way to talk to a special audience.
The last 3 decades of the 20th century saw this portion of the
industry grow like a weed - up and out and in every direction. If there is a
group there is a newsletter, a magazine, a newspaper to serve that group.
Which can be "heaven" for a direct marketer with a product or service for
Combine a magazine message with direct mail fulfillment, add a toll-free
number and you havethe base of direct marketing growth, expansion, success.
There are those who say the credit card, the telephone, and overnight
delivery service are what allowed direct marketing to succeed.
Well, I won't argue ... yet, the credit card and delivery service
companies would have nothing to do without mail, print and phone (and today
the World Wide Web) to generate action. Last time I checked the card and
delivery industries reach me by mail more often than any other way ... even
today as we walk into the new millennium.
And then there's the telephone. It's been around since 1876. And yet it
wasn't until the end of WWII that it began to become a true marketing tool.
Yes, in the 1890's (I did say 1890's!) John Patterson and his NCR
team used the phone as a marketing and sales tool. Yet, it was not in wide
use until the 1950's. Since that time it has been almost "automatically"
included as a part of every direct marketing program.
The telephone works because it allows for 1:1 personal and instant
communication - and feedback. You talk with your prospect and customer, AND
you know immediately - really immediately - the situation. Zero waiting
Today, even with all the electronics, most of which has been a boost to
better communication, nothing is as personal AND effective AND instant as
the telephone. Note the explosion of cell-phones to meet the communication
demand we have created. And demand is the word. Around the world.
Murray Roman, the "George Washington" of what we now call the
TeleMarketing/TeleSelling industry, made it legitimate for businesses to
phone their prospects, as well as their customers. You call to present an
opportunity, to follow-up on a request, to provide more information
following the sales call.
Outbound calling is now a standard for scores of consumer and B-to-B
companies on every continent.
Inbound calling, too. Where your prospect calls you. To talk to a sales
rep, request a demonstration, to place an order. And for service, too. The
toll-free exchanges, now inexpensive and common, have opened marketplaces
never before available.
A twist on the telephone is facsimile - fax. The true base for fax is not
the telephone ... it is the telegraph. From the railroads of the mid-19th
century. The 1840's.
Although formally introduced by AT&T at the 1939 World's Fair in New
York, it did not become a true player of any consequence until the 1980's.
Still today fax-marketing is being used more than ever. Which is somewhat
of a surprise, with electronic communication so common. My read on this is
management wants - feels they need - hard copies of almost everything. They
print-out web site and E-mail pages to "keep" - the fax does it for them.
Another set of reasons fax marketing has grown is paper and color. The
"cheap" black/white roll paper fax has given way to full color single sheet
"presentations". Well, that might be stretching the quality - yet, fax today
is certainly at a higher level than just a few years back. And a serious
consideration for any DM program. Consumer as well as business.
Broadcast is the next arena of direct marketing success. Radio and
television. Radio less so - it a tougher measure.
Yet, so called "drive time" radio (catching people in their cars going to
and from work) and "talk radio" (stations that are all talk) offer increased
options for direct marketing. And produce results.
Television has been a direct marketing medium from the beginning. The
earliest programming carried response commercials. Today TV runs everything
from 15 second to 60 minute product specific offers. And of course, 24 hour
shopping networks have become increasingly profitable.
Most television is pure advertising. Some is audience directed and target
directed. Very little is designed to get a response.
Of those that are the vast majority are product offerings for the
consumer. The target is you and me at home, vs. the office. The hook on this
is many more people now have an office at home. If not full time, part-time.
Thus, the opportunities are greater.
Next are sales support materials, collateral, brochures, literature - a
collection of words all meaning the same thing. I feel they should also be
included in the direct marketing mix.
Why? Well, because since age 12 I've been ringing door bells. Making an
effort to sell something to someone. And these paper tools (they are usually
paper) help. It's as simple, as black and white, as just that. Support tools
help get the order, the response.
Almost every company has rather decent sales, and sometimes, technical
support materials. And almost every company has rather lousy direct
Here's why I say this; time after time when I've been involved with a
program that needed a brochure, or at least it was desirable, one of two
... an already existing flyer of some sort, designed for an entirely
different purpose, was called into action and used - to save money, or
... the brochure created was compromised to the point of saying little to
nothing - so it could be used over and over again and again, to continue to
The major fault? Failing to AFTO - Ask For The
Order. In direct marketing AFTO is not an option ... as it may
be in other disciplines. It is a necessity in DM. Which means your
collateral and support brochures must also let your prospect and customer
know you want to do business with them.
One more thing on brochures; a minute ago I mentioned black and white.
Saying having a brochure is a black and white issue - you need one. Now I'm
going to tell you they must have some color.
We live in a color world. The world expects color! It is really
not an option. And your DM literature is no exception. Black and white (or
black on a color stock) is cheap ... not inexpensive - cheap!
How many colors is a decision to be made. Having color is not.
One more topic. The amazing world of electronics also offers direct
marketing prospecting, selling and service opportunities. The World
Wide Web and electronic mail (e-mail) truly exploded during the
last half of the '90's. Into a real marketing set of tools.
My "E" experiences began in 1989 - with an opportunity from Prodigy. By
the middle of the decade http://rayjutkins.com was up. E-mail as a business
communication avenue - and now a marketing mainstay - are as common for me
and my very small company as the telephone, the fax, having marketing/sales
literature and the use of direct mail. "E" is part of the mix.
Because E-commerce and all the strings dangling from it are so new,
whatever I write today could very well be outdated tomorrow. So I won't say
much here - see elsewhere in my writing collection for Web Marketing
What I will share with you is the WWW and E-mail are direct marketing
tools - and thus opportunities - for you. No more, no less than any other
Which means some of you reading this should NOT have a web site! Just as
some of you, like me, do not use broadcast as a marketing too, the web is
wrong for you, too. This is not necessarily good, nor bad. It is "fact".
Yet, on the other side, if you are in business you must have an E-mail
address. Just as you have a telephone number you have no option but to have
an E-address. Without it you are not offering your prospects nor customers
what they expect. Don't even thing about NOT having E-mail - it is not
optional in the 21st century.
Last "E" point: you may feel the web is going to replace many, if not
most, of the "old" marketing tools. Not so. Not in your lifetime. Probably
not in your grand children's life time.
Change - absolutely. Replace - no way.
You undoubtedly know the turtle and hare story. Fast and slow are
relative - it is the end of the game that is important.
So, enough. A collection of old thoughts brought up to date. Hope you
About Ray Jutkins, October 3rd, 1936 — January 6th, 2005. Ray was one
of the NMOA’s most generous contributors. Over the years Ray supplied the
NMOA with hundreds of tips and articles for members. This is just one of
many. Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ...
including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the
Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa. Keep an eye out for more of
Ray’s marketing tips and how-to articles in the pages of Direct Marketing
Digest and the article archive on the NMOA website.