Direct marketing methods are preferred by many savvy marketers over traditional marketing efforts that use general advertising techniques. Typically, general advertising has no mechanism that can track promotional efforts, so there is absolutely no way to be sure that they work.

Direct marketing efforts can be tracked, so direct marketing is measurable and there is accountability as opposed to general advertising. What can direct marketing do that general advertising simply can not do? Following is a short list.

Direct marketing can be measured
The foundation to any direct marketing campaign is testing. Why? To see what headline, offer, price point, etc. yields the most profit. How? Every direct marketing effort is assigned a tracking code so they can be identified and measured.

You can sell your products and services directly to your market without tracking each effort and call it direct marketing, but you defeat the purpose. Direct marketing is all about testing and using a scientific (reproducible) approach to growing your business.

Because direct marketing can be measured, it is accountable. You will no longer waste your promotion budget on efforts that aren’t profitable. You may not always know why something works, but you’ll discover what works. Stick with what works and you’ll see your company grow year after year.

Direct marketing allows you to target your market with pinpoint accuracy
General advertising can define your target market to a certain degree using demographics, geographics and psychographics, but direct marketing allows you to target your market to a much finer degree.

Direct mail is a great example of this. With this method you can mail to a well defined target market through list selection. And once you get a customer in your database you can mine that database for the gold that lies in the depth of information (number of discernable attributes) you acquire about your customers.

Direct marketing allows you to better personalize your message
As you gain information about your customers, you can use it to better target what products and services you offer to each of them. You’ll also be able to speak to them specifically as individuals instead of throwing out general sales pitches typically made to large, diverse groups of people.

How you speak to your prospects and customers is important because the more you can address them in a personal way with offers tailored to appeal to them, the better your response rates, and ultimately, your bottom line.

Direct marketing allows you to limit your risk
Because direct marketing is scientific, and reproducible, you can test a campaign on a small, statistically valid scale, which limits your risk. Then, if your test is successful, you can roll out your campaign with bigger numbers.

You can also gauge your response by the size of your promotion effort (for instance, the number of direct mail packages you mail at a given time), which will help guide you in allocating labor and other resources when fulfilling your purchase orders.

Direct marketing provides immediacy
In some circumstances, like when you test and market your products on the Internet, you can get immediate feedback. Savvy direct marketers often test headlines and offers on banners or pay-per-click campaigns (Google adwords, for instance) in order to give them direction for more expensive campaigns through the mail, on television or via other marketing channels. They can get feedback within days, or even hours.

Know what you’re getting into before you risk big budgets on a general advertising campaign. Test on a small scale, measure your results, analyze the numbers and then roll out to larger campaigns. You’ll reduce your risk, learn what works and increase your profitability.