Direct marketing is a type of marketing that communicates directly with the prospect or customer. It should have a clear call to action and is often measurable. It is generally used to acquire or retain profitable customers. There are a number of different channels available to you, each offering different benefits and costings.Direct MailEvery household in the modern world no doubt receives several mail shots per year. This is often referred to as junk mail generally because many people don’t like receiving it through their letterbox. Because of this negative connotation it is critical that any Direct Mail that you send is highly targeted and personalized. The more personalized and relevant your mailing is, the higher your response rates will be. If you have a large customer base, it is beneficial to segment them based on the data you hold about them. This way you can try and personalize your message to that particular group.Within your letter you need to have a clear call to action so customers know how to buy your product or service. If you are a complete beginner it would be beneficial to employ a creative agency to support you, however this could be costly.The biggest advantage of Direct Mail is that it is completely measurable so you can track how it is performing incrementally. You would need to set up a no contact control cell within your mailed population in order to understand who would have bought your product anyway. In terms of cost, Direct Mail is generally more expensive than online channels due to the postage costs so it is probably an option for a more established business with a larger marketing budget.Door dropsDoor drops are less targeted mail shots or flyers delivered through your letterbox. They are not addressed to the householder personally. You will have seen local takeaway and taxi cab firms use door drops and they can be effective as a localized marketing strategy for acquiring new customers. If you can offer a discount this will increase your response but don’t expect to see great results.TelemarketingThis is another form of direct marketing that can be intrusive so proceed with caution. There are outbound and inbound options depending if you call the customer or they are calling you. You must ensure that you have permission to contact them by phone otherwise you could be breaching data protection laws. It is beneficial to position the call as a courtesy call prior to offering any product or service. This will put customers at ease and make them more receptive to talking to you. This can be an expensive channel as you have the network charges to cover as well as staff if you don’t have time to make the calls yourself.Email marketingEmail marketing follows the same principles as direct mail in that you are mailing to your prospects or customer base. Again this is a measurable channel and is cost effective as you don’t have the postage costs to consider. The barrier to email marketing can be the filters that classify emails as spam. This could mean that your prospects don’t actually receive your email. This channel is a great way for you to connect with your customers or prospects and offer them real value.Direct SalesDirect sales is not specifically direct marketing as it generally involves sales agents selling your product or service but it is another option for your marketing mix. You could employ a direct sales agency to sell your product on your behalf for a fee. This channel can be cost effective if you have the right staff and a relevant offer for the customer.These are a handful of direct marketing channels to consider when you are planning your marketing activity. Each one has their own merit depending on your objectives for your business and your budget. Always bear in mind that it is important to have more than one marketing channel in your portfolio in case you start to see a reduction in your response rates. This can often happen when you are in a saturated marketplace.