Like outdoor advertising, direct advertising is the oldest method of reaching a consumer or a prospect. There is good deal of confusion with the use and meaning of phrases like direct advertising, direct mail advertising and mail order advertising.
What are Direct Advertising and Direct Mail Advertising?
Direct advertising is a very comprehensive phrase covering all forms of printed advertising delivered directly to the prospects or customers instead of indirect distribution like newspapers or the magazines. The printed matter is distributed house to house by personal delivery, handed over to passersby on the sidewalks, placed in automobiles, stuck under the wind screen of an automobile, handed over to retail counters, or may be sent through post or courier. It is direct mail advertising if it reaches by mail or courier.
Contrary to the above, mail order advertising does not refer to the channels through which the message is delivered. It is a method of product distribution — a direct marketing method under which orders are secured for the goods and services without the aid of intermediaries.
Forms of direct advertising
Direct advertising takes different forms — They are post cards, envelope enclosures, Broad sides, Booklets, Catalogues, Sales letters, gift-novelties, store publications, package inserts and samples.
1. Post Cards
Post card is the most widely used form of direct advertising as it has high attention value and economy. It is designed to get direct and immediate attention of the recipient. Post cards are used to carry brief messages, to acknowledge orders, to announce the next mailing, to make an offer, to answer an enquiry and to bring the mailing list up-to date. Thous economical, handy and brief, the message cannot be confidential, detailed and attractive.
Picture Postcards: Useful publicity can be gained by supplying customers with postcards as with hotels, airlines and shipping lines. People also collect them as souvenirs.
2. Envelope Enclosures
The term ‘envelope enclosure’ is quite likely to mislead us. By ‘enclosure,’ normally we mean a paper attached to the main letter. But in advertising context, it stands for the bunch of papers mailed separately. It may be a circular or a stuffer or a folder.
What is a Circular?
A circular is a sheet of paper or sheets of printed papers which features the product in colour or black and white with illustrations. It gives detailed information regarding the needs of buyers. Circular lists the product specification and gives due importance to product features. They are versatile, inexpensive and handy and are the most popular form of enclosure.
What is a Stuffer?
A “stuffer” is an enclosure that is used as a means to deliver sales and goodwill messages. It is the vehicle to amplify the sales literature by providing illustrations and detailed information of wide range of commodities of a single company or of different manufacturers.
What is a Folder?
A ‘folder’ is bigger than an ordinary card or a letter which is folded in an impressive and convenient manner. It is very popularly known as book-let without binding.
3. Broad-sides (Broad-sheets)
Broad-side is a large size advertising folder. The striking features are its jumbo size, and illustrative display. The usual sizes are 17 inches by 22 inches, 19 inches by 25 inches or even 25 inches by 28 inches. These are called spectaculars in print. Maps, charts and small posters may be produced in this style.
Booklet is a very small book consisting of not more than 8 to 10 pages fastened with staples or glue to allow it to open as a book. A book-let is usually mailed in an envelope. It is designed for a thorough reading with the intention of keeping it for the future reference. It contains useful information guiding the intending buyers about product features.
Brochures: These are printed in 4 to 6 pages or even more. They give information about the goods and services in greater detail with the help of figures and illustrations in black and white or colour. They are often used by publishers, travel agencies, tourist departments, life insurance companies, medical firms, etc. They are very impressive by appearance; and they give the seller unlimited opportunities to create a prestigious mailing item.
Catalogues are just like booklet but much larger and present wide range of products of business house.They can be kept as reference book as they cover sales literature substantially. In addition to the details of product information, catalogues contain prices and terms and conditions of purchase.
The differences between catalogue and a book let are:
1. Catalogue covers much wider sales literature.
2. It gives prices of products.
3. It is costlier than book-let and is normally used as a reference material.
Hotel Stationery: Letter headings and printed envelopes placed in hotel rooms are not only a service but a useful form of advertising.
6. Sales Letters
A sales letter is the ambassador of a company reflecting the image of the company and its products. A sales letter sells first the name of the company then the products or the services. The success of a sales letter relies mainly on its convincing, appealing and persuading abilities. The quality of the stationery, the style of writing and the theme of the letter are very important. Normally, sales letters structured on the principle of A-I-D-A, i.e., arresting the attention, generating interest, developing desire and initiating action.
7. Gift Novelties
Gift advertising or specialty advertising is the medium that makes use of articles known as the gift-novelties that bear the name and address of the company and perhaps a sales message. These act as “goodwill” or “reminder” gifts. There are countless such items that can be presented. However, these can be broadly classified into three categories as novelties, calendars and executive gifts.
8. Date Cards/Calendars
Sometimes advertisements are made on tiny, neat and attractive pieces of durable paper, the opposite side of which contains a full calendar for the current year which may be of use to the general public. This medium is expensive enough and is not within reach of ordinary businessmen, but by all means very effective, as the person receiving it usually preserves it for at least one year.
A calendar is a chronicle giving details of days, months, dates, with holidays and a few astrological details. These are comparatively costlier. These can be wall calendars and desk calendars.
9. Store Publication
A store publication is a house organ or a bulletin which is the magazine published by the company mainly for the purpose of promoting goodwill and molding the public opinion, though it has the tinge of sales expansion. These house organs are freely distributed to the dealers, customers and the employees.
10. Package Inserts
The phrase, ‘package inserts’ is used in a broad sense and includes packages, labels and inserts. Though a package is a container protecting the contents and facilitating easy handling, storage and transportation, it is very effective means of carrying message about the product. Thus, it acts as a medium of advertising. For better results, the advertising message on the package must be short, illustrative giving product features and uses. The trade-mark or the brand-name must be conspicuous.
Sampling is a method of direct advertising where the advertisers distribute samples of the product to prospective customers free of cost. This sampling works on the theory that a product once tested or tasted by the user will sell itself. Sampling is done in cases Of those products that are cheaper and have repeat sales. The common items can be food items, toiletries, soap, tea, coffee, medicines, etc.