I had occasion recently to read the findings of a study conducted by Yankelovich and presented by Direct magazine.
The report was titled “The Whys Behind the Buys” and looked at consumer attitudes specifically toward direct marketing. The study wanted to explore the interests and attitudes of direct response consumers—and, as its title suggests, find out more about the behavior of direct shoppers.
But unlike many other studies I have read on direct marketing, this one actually makes note of the role of the brand in the direct process. Many times, the brand is viewed as its own little world inside the greater marketing discipline, which is patently untrue. And direct marketing, more than any other area of marketing, requires the brand in order to create a relationship and nurture growth.
One of the most interesting findings by Yankelovich was that direct marketing companies have fiercely loyal customers and people who shop direct are also much more likely to tell others about their experience—both the good and the bad.
This bodes well for brands, but holds some danger too. Integrated direct marketing offers great tools for marketers to build a brand's image and position in the marketplace, both through direct experience and indirect word of mouth. However, if a brand's image and position are not properly deployed and reinforced through the direct marketing channels, the potential to cause damage to the brand's position in the marketplace is huge.
As the study report stated, “There is a tendency in direct marketing to dismiss brand building as a program objective. Brand image is built through other marketing vehicles, it is thought, while direct marketing is only about selling.”