Direct Marketing

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Whether you call it junk mail, spam or a great information source, you may be wondering whether the advertising blitz that comes via snail mail and email actually makes money for someone.

It does, according to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), the industry’s trade group.

Direct mail advertising was initially based on the mail order catalog. The creation of bulk mail rates in the late 1920s, followed by various loyalty and rewards programs helped direct mail sales—now referred to as direct marketing—soar to new heights. The numbers continued to climb as direct marketing expanded to include the Internet.

In 2010, US commercial businesses and nonprofit organizations represented by the DMA spent more than $153 billion in advertisements. Sales generated by those ads translated into over $685 billion. Nonprofits received almost $200 billion in donations.

According to the DMA, more than 70% of Americans shop direct and even more read the offers that drop into their web or snail mail boxes.

What if you’re not part of that 70%? Can you opt out?

The answer is yes. For a dollar, DMA will put your name on a direct marketers delete list, though it only applies to direct marketers that use the list, and only lasts five years. The DMA also maintains an e-mail opt-out list, which is free.

There’s one more step if you’ve done business with a company and your account information is in their records. In that case, you’re a customer. To have your name removed from their mailing list you’ll have to contact each company individually.

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