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Direct Response Marketing

Guest Opinion: 7 Things You Need to Know About DR

1 Dec, 2009 By: Jim McNamara Response

Quick tips you need to learn — and remember — if you want to be successful in direct response advertising. (And who doesn’t?)


Jim McNamara1. ‘If a tree falls in the woods …’
Nobody hears nothin’ — unless that tree has a solid marketing campaign behind it. Direct response advertising is an incredibly powerful way to bring new products to market. It lets you get the word out, show and tell people why your product is so exciting, and start a direct dialogue with your customers at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising campaigns.

2. DR Comes Late to the Party
It used to be, DR got no respect. Marketers were wary of getting involved for fear that early DR’s cheesy production values and yell-and-sell sales techniques might tarnish their brands. But that’s not so much the case today. Names like Proactiv Solution, Sears, Apple and Microsoft have all done DR with great results. Thanks to the Gecko, GEICO has become one of America’s best-known insurance companies. People like and react to DR advertising more than ever.

3. Slice the Tomato
You’ve seen it a hundred times — they use the knife to cut a brick and then slice a tomato. Sure, it’s ridiculous, but it’s also one of the most effective demonstrations in DR history. It’s dramatic, it’s visual and it’s memorable. It sears the idea that the knife is both sharp and tough into your brain. And it’s the kind of thing that every successful DR spot or show does. Great demonstrations of solid benefits are what DR is all about.

4. $19.95 Still Rocks
Particularly in short form, a low price point rules. During the past 30 years, almost every one of the most successful short-form DRTV products has had an advertised price under $20. Viewers like products that don’t cost a lot. And so do marketers. Except marketers feel the pinch of inflation — their product and media costs have more than doubled during that time, while that $20 price barrier has remained the same.

5. It's All About the Benjamins
It’s no secret that times are tough. DR consumers are strapped for cash and respond best to propositions that offer real value. That’s why value propositions are the hot ticket. Even State Farm Insurance, which for years could simply push its “good hands” brand image, is now promising specific dollar savings over its major competitor. It’s hard out there for a promoter, brother. It’s not enough to offer a 20-percent discount — you need to show consumers how they’ll save 50 percent or more.

6. The Message Rules
Sure, radio is different from TV, which is different from print, which is different from the Web, which is different from ... well, you get the idea. Certainly, every medium has its own unique twists and needs. But a good, solid DR message often translates surprisingly well from one to another, at least as a start. The ShamWow, for example, started in the pitch market, for example, yet look how well it has done on TV. If you’ve got a message that does well in one market, that’s a solid starting place for crafting a sales message that will work in other media as well.

7. Lots to Love
DR advertising continues to be the hottest game in town, attracting even the most conservative of old-time brand advertisers. The reason? DR offers a marketer huge advantages, including: a stronger, clearer sales message; immediate sales; measurable, testable results; lower cost-of-entry into a market; and a more direct relationship with the consumer. All of this, and it still builds your brand name and image. That’s a lot to like!


About the Author: Jim McNamara


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