In a direct marketing role, you'll be promoting products, services and brands to an audience of both existing and potential customers.
It's your job to help increase sales by raising the profile of your business, through targeted promotional marketing campaigns and strategies.
So, what will I actually be doing?
To attract consumers, you might use methods like:
- HTML email
- Traditional mailers
- Free gifts
- Token collect offers or money-off vouchers
You'll need to constantly find new ways to reach your target audiences, including in-store displays, special events, direct mailings and advertising.
Typical tasks include meeting with clients to discuss products and services, devising marketing ideas, keeping projects on budget and making sure all campaigns run smoothly.
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The nitty gritty
Typically, in direct marketing you'll work from 9 until 6, Monday to Friday. But to meet tight deadlines, overtime may be necessary. You could also be asked to attend events like product launches or exhibitions outside of working hours.
At the start of your career, it's likely that you'll be mainly office-based - sometimes visiting suppliers, meeting with creative agencies and attending events. With experience, and as your role progresses, you'll probably spend more time on the road visiting clients.
There are lots of different routes to consider. You could work for a promotions agency, or for a marketing communications agency that offers clients a range of services including sales promotion, direct marketing and advertising. Most of the bigger agencies are based in prominent towns and cities - although rural locations are becoming more popular.
With experience, you'll start to work on larger accounts. You may decide to pursue a promotion to a senior position, such as account manager or account director.
Money, money, money
Starting off in direct marketing, your salary would typically be around £18,000 to £21,000 a year depending on your role.
This would rise to £25,000 to £35,000 a year, with more experience. And in senior positions you can command a pay packet from £50,000+. Jobs within London are likely to have higher rates.
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The good points...
It’s a highly rewarding job, especially when a campaign is a success - and your bottom line reflects that.
...and the bad
Due to the fast paced nature of marketing, sometimes the working day will be pressurised.
Is there study involved?
To get into direct marketing, you could come from a range of career or academic backgrounds.
Experience may give you an advantage, particularly if you've worked in promotional, sales, marketing or customer service roles before. Equally, strong educational qualifications would impress an employer just as much. But in the main, employers are interested in your skills, enthusiasm and business sense.
Direct marketing is a highly competitive industry to join. Some employers may want you to have a degree or BTEC HND in a relevant subject such as advertising, marketing, business and management or psychology.
If you have a degree, you could join the industry through a graduate training scheme, such as the scheme run by the Marketing Communications Consultants Association (MCCA) for its member agencies.
As a first jobber, it's a good idea to try and find work experience in a marketing promotions agency beforehand to get some experience under your belt. You can contact suitable agencies directly to ask about work placements - the MCCA website has a list of member agencies.
On entering the industry, it's likely you'll take up a junior position and develop your skills on the job. If you have a degree, this could be through a structured graduate training scheme if your company has one.
Training may also include the chance to gain one of the following qualifications from the Institute of Sales Promotion (ISP):
ISP Certificate in Promotional Marketing - an introductory short course that many agencies use to train new staff
ISP Diploma in Promotional Marketing - a part-time course of around 18 weeks, and the main qualification in the sales promotion industry.
The ISP also offers a range of short courses and seminars in various aspects of sales promotion.
You could also take short courses and qualifications from the Institute of Direct Marketing (IDM).
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
To suit a role in direct marketing, you should have:
- Great spoken and written communication skills
Creativity and problem-solving skills
- First rate organisational skills and attention to detail
- The ability to work well as part of a team
- Drive, motivation and enthusiasm
- The ability to meet deadlines and work under pressure
- Confidence and persuasiveness, for 'selling' your ideas
- Budget awareness and good business sense