All Marketing is Direct

Aug 28, 2015

BY MICHELLE THOMAS – DIRECTOR, INTEGRATED MARKETING

“Brand Marketers need to think like Direct Marketers and Direct Marketers need to think like Brand Marketers.” – former Zappos.com executive

This was a visionary statement considering that in the early days Direct Marketing almost entirely defined the marketing organization for this pure play etailer. In retrospect, the statement was foreshadowing where we are today (not to mention some of the best advice that I ever received)!

Yet years later, marketers still find it one of the hardest pieces of advice to act on, but why?

Is it because marketing siloes still exist? Is it because there is no source of truth when it comes to which data should actually drive marketing decisions? Is it because marketing disciplines are not coordinated?

It may not be easy to tackle all of these issues at once but we can start by breaking down the siloes between Brand Marketing and Direct Marketing. It’s been a long time in the making and it’s about time.

Let’s start with a loose definition of what Direct Marketing is:

  • It seeks to solicit a response/action
  • It has the ability to send a targeted message directly to a customer
  • It is often data-driven
  • It is measureable and trackable

Here’s a quick exercise for you. For the handful of marketing channels listed below, put a checkmark in the boxes where the channel meets the criteria?

All Marketing is Direct_Fig1

What were the results of your exercise? Did it look similar to this?

All Marketing is Direct_Fig2

Now think about what the role of Brand Marketing is:

  • It influences the customer experience
  • It helps articulate the brand personality
  • It aids in customer retention and acquisition
  • It creates awareness and differentiation amongst new and existing customers

Let’s go through a similar exercise as above but this time using the brand lens:

All Marketing is Direct_Fig3

Did you get a similar result as the first exercise?

Pause for a second and consider what this means. Brand channels are direct channels and direct channels are brand channels.

The next generations of marketing channels (and therefore marketers) are hybrids of Direct and Brand. To be successful, they will need to combine the best techniques from each discipline to:

  • Tell powerful stories that help craft the customer experience across all channels and inspire action
  • Engage customers in a way that enhances loyalty and builds stronger relationships
  • Drive consumer response through the use of data and insights

Slowly the realization is sinking in that marketing is: simply marketing. Now it’s just a matter of time before we take advantage of the hybrid channels to harness the power of insight to drive more effective and more engaging marketing campaigns.