Direct Selling Versus Direct Marketing

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Selling ‘Off page’

Direct selling is itself is a form of direct marketingin that an approach is made directly to the consumer, inviting them to make a purchasing decision. The essential difference between direct selling and what is generally referred to as direct marketing, is that while the latter’s message also goes directly to a potential customer, it relies solely on the media of print or audio vision to impart the selling message.

Direct selling, on the other hand, relies heavily on the presence of a salesperson to communicate the message and to influence an early buying decision. Direct sellers may well use catalogues and other sales aids, but it is the effect of that physical involvement of the salesperson that makes it such a powerful technique. Direct sellers also provide consumers with an opportunity to interact with the manufacturers or suppliers of the goods on offer. DSOs are able, through their salesforce, to personalizw their approach in a way which is almost impossible with other direct marketing methods.

Some DSO’s and some products, do require salespeople who are well trained in presenting the benefits and special features of the products they have on offer. In effect they are giving ‘live commercials’; but this is not always either necessary or indeed the best way of involving the direct seller in the process of making a sale.

For many low-cost consumer goods,a catalogue presented or shown by a direct seller to a prospective customer can still be relied upon to do the greater part of ‘talking’. To illustrate this point let us examine the conventional process of making a sale. Most sales trainers deal with the selling process as a series of logical steps. It is an approach which is equally familar to those creating any direct marketing campaign. The following is a typical way of describing this approach.

The first step in the process is to gain the attention of the prospect and the second is to convert that attention into an initial interest the product on offer. It is relatively easy to gain anyone’s attention but that attention may be momentary. to convert it into interest in what is on offer requires skill.

The next step is similarly to convert that interest into convection that what is being said, or claimed about the product or service on offer, is actually true and believable.

The fourth step is to build up conviction into a desire for ownership. A prospective customer may well be totally convinced that what is being claimed is true but, at the same time, still not feel a pressing need or desire on their part to make a purchase.

The final step in the process is to close the sale; to make it easy as possible for the prospect to fulfil their desire for ownership. The closing of a sale should be the natural outcome of the preceding steps in the process.

The very best direct mailing pieces aim to achieve, in design , copy writing and print, all five steps in the selling process. Just let us look at how they do it.

An attractive overall presentation of a single mailing piece or a catalogue attracts attention and goes on to create interest with a bold and well-written opening message. When it comes to the third step, product claims backed up by testimonials from a recognized authority or from previous customers provide conviction that what is claimed is true.

In the next step good direct mailing pieces create desire in a number of ways. It could also be through powerful visual association; an attractive model, a beautiful home or another visual image that is subconsciously associated with ownership. The fifth and final step of closing the sale is achieved by making it easy for a purchasing decision to be made.

Direct mailing pieces do this by offering a range of alternative decisions – all of them positive. It could be the number of items you may order, colour and size options or whether you wish to pay by cheque or one of several credit card options.

Reference: Direct Selling: Richard Berry