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Direct Response Marketing

7 Things You Need to Know About DR

7 May, 2010 By: Jim McNamara Response

Jim McNamaraA second in an occasional series of quick tips you need to learn — and remember — if you want to be successful in direct response advertising.

1. Yes, it’s a formula. But it’s a ‘secret’ formula.

Lots of people say that creating good DR is simple. You just follow the formula — three segments for an infomercial, problem-solution, hard-sell pitchmen, blah-blah-blah. Sure, a lot of DR tends to look the same. But don’t be fooled. If DR really worked according to a formula, it would have to be one of the best-kept secrets in history. Otherwise, why would 90 percent of new DR projects, even those created by the smartest DR pros, fail to produce profits? Certainly, it pays to study what works. But there’s no simple recipe that can guarantee your product’s success in this very tricky medium.

2. ‘When you wish upon a star …’

One of the most frequent questions marketers ask is this: “Should I hire a celebrity endorser?” While that’s an important question, it’s also one that has no easy answer. Certainly, the right TV star can bring lots of attention and credibility to your campaign. Think Vanessa Williams for Proactiv Solution, or Peyton Manning for DirecTV. But using a celebrity can cost a bundle and actually steal the spotlight away from your product. Case in point — that TV spot with NFL star Brett Favre in the electronics store, waffling over whether or not to buy a big-screen TV. It’s a fun spot. But which store was he promoting?

3. It’s all Greek to me.

Want to make money? Have fun? Keep your family safe? Increase your sex appeal? These are the come-ons for lots of the latest DR hits. They’re also the pitch that the Greek king Agamemnon made to his countrymen 3,200 years ago to launch the Trojan War. Direct response techniques may change, but the core messages tend to be timeless.

4. Stick it to your lawyer.

Many DR creators look at your legal team as the enemy. They feel their goal is to slip one by the attorneys, do some fancy wordplay that those overpaid legal beagles don’t catch. But that’s a very shortsighted approach. A good, experienced attorney can actually be a key member of your creative team. He or she can keep you out of competitive and regulatory hassles that can cost you millions of dollars. Sometimes they can actually come up with better, safer and even more effective ways to phrase what you wanted to say in the first place. Who knew?

5. More than just a better mousetrap.

Say you’ve developed a terrific diet plan, a skin care product or motor oil treatment. It’s an incredible product, better than the one that dominates the market currently, and you’re certain that you’re on your way to riches. Well, don’t buy the bigger house just yet. The road to DR success is littered with the burned-out wrecks of many better — but not extremely better — products and offers. Remember the advice of management guru Peter Drucker: if you want to succeed in a market that is already dominated by another player, your product and offer has to be more than better. It has to be 10 times better.

6. Use the phone, then the keyboard.

OK, you’ve got to write an ad or strategy. So it’s time to sit down at your computer, right? Wrong. The best way to start is by picking up the phone. You need to get to know your current customers and prospects — how they feel and what they want — before you craft your message. You need to get in touch with their needs and desires before you dare to unleash your brilliance, your new campaign, into their world. Like high school biology, it pays to do your homework.

7. In the end, it’s all DR.

No matter which way you slice it, direct response is the most powerful kind of marketing on earth. Regardless of whether it is in print, DRTV, interactive media, social media, network marketing or other spaces, it’s a great way to connect directly with potential customers and close the sale now.

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