As consumers, we are often bombarded with different types of advertisements each day. Whether it’s by television, newspaper, billboards, or the internet, advertising has reached us one way or another. Yet, a majority of the ads that we encounter are often meaningless and uninteresting, because of the fact that these ads are meant to reach a certain target audience. This perception seems to change, however, when we look inside our mailboxes, pick-up our telephone, and even check our e-mail. We often ponder how marketers know that we have a pet snake, own a certain kind of computer, or even wear 90’s clothing. That is because every time we purchase products such as: electronics, computer software, and other products; direct mail advertising is in the air. Every time we send in warranty cards and registration forms back to the manufacturer; as consumers we are often unaware that we are sending information about ourselves, that will be used as; statistical, personal, and informative data for future marketing purposes. Thus, marketers and advertisers know what kinds of products to target us with. Although direct mail, or as we call it “junk-mail” somehow finds its way to our homes and businesses. In order to understand direct-mail advertising, I will be discussing this unique form of advertising in a broad area. Among them are: what direct-mail advertising is, the historical development of the direct-mail advertising, different methods and types of mail, the future of direct-mail advertising, and the internet’s use of and impact on direct-mail advertising.
Direct-mail advertising is a form of medium used by direct marketers, it is the most personal and selective of all media. Also, this highly specialized mail can be purchased (available among the thousands are lists of various level students, business professionals, college professors, pregnant women, and even vintage car owners), but they can be expensive. Printing and postage fees make the cost of direct mail per person reached quite high compared with other forms of media. However, because direct mail goes only to the people the advertiser wishes to contact, there is no wasted coverage. Reaching the prospect does not, however, ensure that the message is received. Direct mail is pure advertising. Therefore, a direct-mail ad must attract its own readers. This is critical when you consider that the average American home receives more than 10 direct mail pieces a week and that the recipient of ads on average decides within four seconds whether or not to, open it, or throw it out.
During the 1950’s and early 1960’s, computers emerged to be common business tools. Marketers were able to collect, store, and manipulate larger amounts of data to aid marketing decision makers. Out of this capability developed the marketing information system (MKIS)- an ongoing, organized procedure to generate, analyze, distribute, store, and retrieve information for use in making marketing decisions. Another useful tool that developed for marketers is the decision support system (DSS). This particular system is a computerized procedure that permits the marketing manager to interact with data and use various methods of analysis to incorporate, examine, and characterize information. These useful computer-based systems are then organized, stored, and updated in another computer in what is known as a database. This is perhaps the center for all direct-marketers, because it has allows them to narrow their specific target market feild by identifying people that they want to target for advertising. With the developments of these two interrelated computer systems, direct-mail then emerged to be one of the many tools that direct-marketers conveniently use to target their markets. However, with the introduction of desktop publishing in the 1980’s, direct-mail...