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Direct Response Marketing Tips – Offline and Online Strategies

In a world where marketing and advertising messages bombard consumers at the rate of several hundred or more per day, gaining a competitive advantage seems like a battle. Direct marketers understand this battle all too well, especially those on a budget. The direct response marketing tips below should help you gain traction over the competition and develop a competitive advantage setting you on a course for increased profits.

While today’s direct response marketers prefer internet marketing communication channels, traditional marketing channels, like direct mail post cards, and direct response advertising in trade magazines are just as important. The direct response marketing tips in this post can be adapted for either internet direct response marketing or traditional direct response marketing. By integrating the tips across both mediums, print and online, you increase your odds of creating a powerful direct response marketing campaign.

Direct Response Marketing Tips

1. Stress Uniqueness (Develop A Unique Selling Proposition – USP)
Successful businesses are driven by uniqueness that differentiates them from the competition. Differentiation, or unique selling proposition, may include fast delivery, like Domino Pizza’s USP  in the 1980’s, “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free.” Because the pizza was delivered in 30 minutes or less was unique enough for its time, but adding the deal clincher, “free” – if it was not delivered in 30 minutes or less – made Domino’s stand out in the pizza industry, not to mention it helped them increase their bottom line.

Some suggested USP ‘s may include, extended hours, home deliveries, easy returns, or innovative products. Do something the competition is not doing.

2. Use Direct Response Advertising over Institutional Advertising
Institutional advertising, sometimes referred to as image or brand building advertising, does very little for the direct response marketer, plus, it is very expensive to produce and distribute. Institutional advertisement is focused on delayed response, brand or image building. For direct marketers, direct response advertising helps drives sales in the following ways:

  • the direct response ad makes a case for the company, product, or service
  • direct response advertising overcomes sales objections and answers key questions about the company, product, or services
  • it promises results with a money back guarantee or risk free trial
  • and most importantly, the direct response advertising directs the target audience to a buying decision

3. Test, Test, Test
Most small business owners engaged in direct marketing, be it online or offline, fail to test their message. The message is often advertising copy, headline, or sales presentations. For direct mail, you may send out two to three different direct mail pieces offering different headline messages, copy, or images from each other. From your sample mailings, determine which direct mail piece performed better than the other test mailings and then use the successful one as part of your larger campaign.

Testing for online marketing is completed by an A/B split test which is similar to the direct response mail piece. With the A/B test, you are testing two or more different online advertisements or landing pages to see which one engages and attracts users and converts. For a complete explanation of A/B testing, see this article.

 4. Build Back-ends to Your Business
A back-end is a product or service you offer as a follow-up to a product or service already sold to your customer. For example, if you sell flash lights, offer batteries as well. This may sound simple enough, but in reality, plenty of small businesses often fail to offer back-end products or services either in their direct response advertising, brick and mortar stores, or online stores. When you offer back-ends, you increase your customers share of wallet, or get more money from your customers.

5. Listen to Your Customers
The best way to learn about customers wants and needs is to mingle and talk with them while they are in your place of business. I worked as a marketing consultant for a local Chinese restaurant and the restaurant owner enjoyed talking to her customers during the day, especially during lunch rush. The owner went so far as to observe what dishes the customers did not eat in order to learn more about what they liked and did not like; she would watch what they threw in the garbage. Get to know what your customers’ wants and needs, then provide it to them.

6. Keep the Ordering Process Simple
Seasoned direct response marketers will tell you, simplifying the ordering process for customers is key to securing sales. For printed direct mail pieces, make it easy for your customers to contact you by providing several communication channels on the piece, like  your website, email, toll free telephone number, or business reply card. When customers call in, make certain that staff who are responsible for answering the phones have the necessary response tools to guide customers through the sales process. If you are selling online, your online ordering process should be simple and easy. If you make the online ordering process too complex, you are sure to see an increase of abandoned online shopping carts.

7. Educate Customers and Prospects
Failing to educate prospective or current customers on why you are selling a product or service may hurt your chances of a sale. Tell them why you are offering a discount or why you are offing an introductory price or having a special sale. Giving your customers a reason why helps boost your credibility and eliminates the mystery and possible distrust customer’s can develop about your company or product.

8. Do Not Give Up Too Early
All to often I have seen business owners become discouraged of their marketing campaigns and call it quits just after a few mailings. If you feel like giving up, take a step backward and take in the entire picture. You may not have given the campaign enough time, or perhaps you did not test your marketing message. My recommendation is to make slight modifications to your campaign before calling it quits all together.

Final Thoughts

With a system in place and plenty of testing, generating sales through direct response marketing should be like a science, it should work effortlessly and seamlessly. Remember that being clear and direct, giving your customers reasons why they should buy from you, and providing very clear channels of communications for customers to respond should be key to all of your direct response campaigns, regardless if it’s traditional or digital delivery methods.

Do not give up if you find a direct response campaign not working after a few weeks. It takes time for your message to sink in, especially in a high competitive market with consumers constantly being bombarded with marketing messages. If, after a while you find that your campaign is not generating sales, make small adjustments to see if anything changes before you stop the campaign.

If you have any additional comments or ideas, please feel free to share them in the comments section below. I would love to hear from you.

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