As marketers continue to traverse into the ever evolving social marketing playground, many of them will begin to allocate their conventional direct marketing dollars to enhance their social media presence. This represents an ongoing evolution of “old school” direct marketing tactics like direct mail and telemarketing, towards the “new school” of direct marketing, which includes social media, pay per click (PPC) advertising, SEO, and blog development. In a report by Brand Republic, Alterian found that that at least 40% of marketers will reduce their DM budgets to make room for social media marketing.
A March 2009 report by Forrester complements the research done by Alterian. They asked marketers which traditional marketing budgets they would be most likely to cut to increase funding of interactive marketing. Not surprisingly, 40% said direct mail and 7% answered telemarketing.
The approaching death of classic direct marketing may come as a sigh of relief to many consumers, whose mailboxes have long been tormented by junk mail: direct marketing’s “evil” offspring. Receiving unsolicited mail is a sheer annoyance for many consumers, who typically end up placing that flyer or catalog in the trash or shredder.
Although direct marketing is widely recognized as a declining medium, brands sometimes find ways to get creative with it. A 2008 DM campaign for Honda supported the brand’s “going green” initiative by mailing out a letter that contained seeds. When planted, the letter would grow into a beautiful flower, reminding you of Honda every time you watered your plants.
In 2010, it is likely the world will not see very many creative applications of traditional direct marketing, because frankly, when you have a channel as powerful as social media, why bother? Classic direct marketing, such as direct mail, creates a direct connection between a brand and a consumer, but in a closed space. There is no room for interaction. Through the collective interaction that is inherent in the social media landscape, brands can still create a direct connection with consumers, but in an open space that can also be shared, tracked, measured, and analyzed.
A consumer-driven world also partly defines the evolution of direct marketing. Consumers now find the brand themselves, and essentially become a living part of the brand’s essence. With traditional direct marketing, there was never any opportunity for consumers to actively participate with the brand, because the brand tried too hard to find them, often in intrusive and annoying ways.
So when you think about it, marketers are not necessarily shifting their DM budgets to make room for social media, they are simply changing their strategies to reflect the changes in how consumers interact with brands directly each and every day.