Direct sales marketing can look like an easy way for a business to avoid expensive, scattershot marketing techniques, such as television commercials and middleman retailers. The popular reasoning goes that profits are enhanced and costs limited when businesses appeal directly to a specific, appropriate consumer demographic. But before undertaking a direct sales marketing strategy, consider some of the pitfalls and disadvantages of the approach.

Channel Saturation

The increasing number of communication channels for marketing messages, such as social media and smart phones, offers more opportunities to reach consumers than ever before. But as the total volume of marketing messages increases, consumers are less able or inclined to give attention to those messages. For example, consumers regularly throw away direct mail pieces and delete marketing emails without even opening them. The saturation of communication channels with marketing messages makes it difficult for any particular message to sway consumers.

Technological Hurdles

Direct sales marketing typically requires a business to build and maintain multiple databases. According to San Diego State University, these databases range from demographic data to consumer consumption profiles. The creation of effective mobile and Internet marketing materials calls for technical expertise in addition to marketing savvy. Businesses that lack in-house staff with the appropriate skill sets for generating mobile and Internet marketing materials face a choice between outsourcing the work, hiring additional staff or foregoing marketing in those channels.

Finite Reach

While some direct marketing techniques, such as email marketing or social media marketing, can potentially reach a very large audience, most direct marketing techniques offer a finite reach. Direct mail pieces and catalogs carry a per-item cost that limits the total items per order for most businesses. The business must assume, correctly or incorrectly, that the total number of items it sends out represents the maximum number of customers the marketing materials will reach. The limited reach of most direct marketing techniques carries an equivalent limit on the amount of potential sales.

Perception Problems

Businesses employing direct sales marketing techniques may also face a perception problem, particularly among first-time, direct sales customers. According to a 2004 study published by Westminster School of Business, customers that do not normally buy from direct sales businesses tend to have a slightly negative perception of both direct sales and direct sellers. Businesses using direct sales marketing must overcome this negative impression with first-time buyers. The study also notes that customers experienced in direct sales purchases carry positive impressions of both direct selling and direct sellers. Unless the business uses a list of known, direct sales customers, it must contend with the likelihood of a negative impression on the part of the consumer.