If you own and run your own business then you know how important marketing and branding is to your overall success.  The simple fact is that, without marketing, nobody will know that your business exists and the chance that someone is going to purchase anything from you is going to be very small. You more than likely already know this as you have probably tried many different techniques in an effort to promote your business.

If you’re new to owning a business then maybe you haven’t started your marketing efforts yet or maybe you aren’t sure which type of marketing is the best for the products or services you’re selling. If that’s the case then you’re in luck because today we’re going to be talking about the differences between three of the most popular forms of marketing, email, direct mail and telemarketing.

All three of these popular marketing techniques have been around for years (although email is certainly the upstart of the three) and all three have been used successfully by millions of businesses around the country.  In some ways they are all similar and in others they are quite different. Let’s take a look at those differences so that, when you’re ready to start, you have a much better idea which of the three is best for your business.

We’ll start with the “new kid on the block” email. Although it’s definitely the newest form of marketing email is also one of the best for a number of reasons.  Email marketing is extremely economical.  Sending out an email, as long as you have an internet connection, is absolutely free.  You can send emails all day long and it won’t cost you a single dime.  Email is also something that is relatively unobtrusive, doesn’t take days or weeks to set-up, proof and print, and is easy to track if you have the right software in place to do so.

Email marketing does have a few factors that can make it difficult.  For example, sending out random emails to random people is what they call the “shotgun approach” to marketing.  This is the opposite of the better, targeted approach, where your marketing efforts are sent only to people that you have determined are interested in what you have to sell.  If you want to target your emails you’re going to need an “opt-in” email list of people who are interested and that takes time and effort to set up.  Also, these days spam filters have become very good, meaning that many times your email will never be opened, let alone read and acted upon.

Next is Direct Mail, a marketing method that has been around for generations.  Direct mail is a great way to get your message out to the community, to be sure.  Depending on your business and the message that you send the response can be very positive.  Also, a direct mail piece can create sales for a number of days or weeks because it will be sometimes be kept in a drawer or on the fridge. On the other hand, direct mail is also very costly and, like email, is again the shotgun approach.  Yes direct mail can be targeted but this can be costly as well and, statistically, direct mail gets about .5% response so you need to send a lot of pieces in order to generate a significant response.

Lastly, there’s telemarketing, another form or shotgun marketing.  Telemarketing may be the most hated of the three and, today, there are federal government rules that make it easy for someone to “opt-out” and block calls.  Depending on what you’re selling it is still, in some situations, a viable marketing technique but the fact is that the public really hates it and, in most cases, telemarketing isn’t going to build you any affinity in the community at large.

Indeed all three of these marketing techniques have their good and bad points.  A well-rounded marketing plan probably should use a little bit of all three but, in all three cases, if you can target your customers more precisely your success will be higher.

When you’re ready to start marketing, talking to an experienced marketing professional is probably a good idea so that if you’re still unsure you can at least get some advice based on the products you are going to be selling.  Good luck.