Direct marketing practices are changing in today’s world, but many of these changes are rooted in the industry’s history. It’s important to understand the history of direct marketing in order to predict where the industry is headed.
Direct Mail Marketing
Direct mail marketing traces its roots back to Benjamin Franklin, who used it to market Poor Richard’s Almanac. It surged in popularity in the 1800s thanks to the Montgomery Ward and Sears catalogs, which provided people in rural areas access to the products they wanted without leaving their homes. For some companies today, direct mail marketing has turned into email marketing to encourage people to shop online.
Telemarketing took hold in the 1970s when technological advances made it easier for companies and their customers to interact at little or no cost. Eventually, public perception of telemarketing changed, prompting the government to pass laws banning companies from cold-calling prospective customers. Telemarketing is challenging today, but businesses that take the right approach find that a person-to-person connection still pays off.
Direct Response Advertising
Direct response advertising was traditionally used by businesses that sent customers a postage-paid envelope, making it easy for them to order a product. The practice was adapted for television through the use of toll-free numbers to call, and later for email, where companies sent customers links to specific products on their websites. Today, businesses create product ads that are displayed to potential customers on the websites and social media platforms they visit.