In marketing your company and/or brand there are basically two forms of promotion: image based versus lead generating or direct response.
I am sure you are very familiar with both. Maybe you don’t understand the overall complexities of each but I am sure you have been exposed to both.
Think Nike’s Just Do It campaign, you know that they sell a large variety of sports clothing and equipment but this campaign is reinforcing your belief that you will do all your activities better if you use/wear a Nike branded item. And, Nike is promoting this message to a wide audience. They are not targeting a specific group (they may in some of their programs but we are concentrating on their image based ads now). Plus, they are not asking you to buy a specific item during a specific timeframe. They are just reinforcing their brand image that you can Just Do It if you have Nike.
And obviously it works.
However, it typically takes a long time and millions of dollars to create the impact and ongoing repetitiveness necessary for consumers to know who they are and what they stand for just by seeing their logo and of course then translating that into sales.
Unfortunately, most businesses don’t’ have the budget (or time) necessary to achieve that type of recognition. So what do you do? Most businesses gear their marketing dollars to the other form of promotion; lead generating or direct response.
Direct Response Demands Immediate Results
As we’ve explained in this blog before, most sales promotion is defined as a strategy based technique that motivates action now. Basically you are looking for a direct response. A sale. And what better way to increase your sales than developing a direct response marketing program.
What is direct marketing? It is a form of communicating the benefit of your products or services directly to your customers or target prospects so they will buy from you. Direct marketing utilizes all the same forms of promotion as imaged based: advertising (TV, radio, newspaper, magazines including online ads) and social media, as well as direct mail, catalogs, email, smartphone ads and even telephone solicitations. The key difference is that you are directing your message to a specific audience to purchase directly from you now!
The key is in your overall message. The direct response copywriting emphasizes to your prospects that if they have a problem then your product or service is the solution. The copy needs to show that they need it, will love it, so they will buy it. And most effective direct response copywriting includes a time limitation. It instills a sense of urgency – “Don’t Miss Out”. I am sure you have responded to claims of “Limited Time Offer”. I know I have!
Direct Response Promotions Grow Business Now
Direct response promotions are a great way to grow any business, now, effectively. Because direct response by nature of the offer provides the ability to track are the best offers that drive your prospects to action. That way you can ensure a good return on your investment (ROI) before you spend too much.
In addition, in many of the forms of communication you also have the ability to gather information. Of course you want their contact information so you can send them more offers (for more sales) but you also can gather some demographic information which is also vital in learning more about what need you are solving.
For instance if you discover one of your product offerings is especially appealing to men 35-50 then you can tailor future messages to them in not only the copywriting but the way you reach them be it direct mail, advertising or others.
Direct Response Grows Your Database
That is the key to all direct response marketing, gathering data, analyzing it and updating your messages accordingly. You also want to have a planned follow-up component. In all marketing efforts you are trying to build your customer base. You don’t just want people to buy once and move on, you want to build your business with repeat customers. So you need to ensure that you do capture the contact data and then do just that – contact them.
Nothing is worse if you request more information or the offer has said a “free gift” and it either never comes or takes months to arrive. That totally defeats the purpose and may lose you more customers than you gain. So, if you are sending anything out to the responders make sure you have it ready before you start your campaign. Also, if you plan to call or write to them afterwards (or a survey to find out how they liked the product) make sure it is also ready to go before you start your direct response advertising.
Finally, what is your offer? Free gift with purchase (we’ve talked on this blog before how the word “free” grabs attention – everyone likes free) can be effective but make sure what you are giving away makes sense and doesn’t cost more than your potential profit. I’ve seen too many companies go out of business because as they were trying to attract business they gave too much away. A special discount is also effective, but make sure it is special and that the special has an end. That’s where limited time offer comes into the mix. You never want to have it open ended because then that just becomes your new price for the item.
Direct Response basic offers that work:
- Free Trial
- Free Gift with Purchase
- Money-Back Guarantee
- Special Limited Time Discount
- Special Introductory Offer
- Early Bird Discount
- Bill Me Later (very effective when partnered with a free trial offer)
- Free Booklet (or other form of information – this is effective for growing your database)
- Free Shipping (just make sure you can afford to do this)
One thing to remember is that you must always be re-evaluating your offers and your delivery mechanisms. An offer that works today, may not work as well 6 months from now so don’t forget to keep analyzing your results!
Her corporate marketing experience included National Advertising Director for Avis Rent a Car Systems, Inc., and Director of Marketing Services for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Read More