Direct Response

All Small Business Marketing Is Direct Response Marketing.

At least it should be. Direct Response Marketing is marketing designed for the sole purpose of eliciting a specific and measurable response. Now, you might be asking yourself, “Aren’t all advertising campaigns designed to elicit specific and measurable response?” Surprisingly, the answer is “no.”

A great deal of the advertising you see today is created with the intention of enhancing the “image” of the advertiser, also known as “branding.” When you see TV commercials for Apple, Coca-Cola, Nike, Budweiser and other huge consumer product companies that do little more than provide 30 seconds of entertainment, you are witnessing branding in action. The goal is not to make you pick up the phone and call, or walk into the store and request a specific offer. The goal is to endear you to the company – to make you feel good about them and the products they sell.

This is a fine strategy – for them. These are very large corporations competing in national or global markets with products that are either commodities or that behave like commodities. They have multi-million or billion-dollar advertising budgets and operate in a world where capturing a fraction of a share point can translate into hundreds of millions of dollars or more in revenue. For many reasons, which are beyond the scope of this discussion, pure branding can be a worthwhile component of their overall marketing strategy. It is not, however, a sound strategy for the other 95% of businesses out there.

Most businesses depend on advertising to sell things now.

Small businesses can’t afford to blow money on advertising that is little more than a clever diversion. Spending large sums of money to entertain consumers is expensive and best left to television and movie studios. At the end of the day, the cash resister has to ring. Resources are limited and there is no room for frivolous spending on advertising campaigns that cannot be properly evaluated for return on investment.

Direct response adds accountability into the marketing mix. Every campaign has a compelling offer that can be tracked. It can be as simple and direct as asking people to call and order or as subtle as an invitation to download a free report online. But no matter what the offer is, it should be tracked and measured for response and profitability.

But most small businesses fall short. They create bland advertising messages that are all about them and the products they sell. If they include an offer, it’s usually something generic and less than compelling. They run the ads and hope that sales increase. They don’t accurately track results because they don’t have anything specific to track.

Tacking a weak offer or discount on the end of an advertisement does not turn it into a direct response campaign.

Today’s consumers are bombarded with thousands of advertising impressions each day and those advertisements are chock full of the same old weak offers and incentives:

  • Everybody offers a free consultation.
  • Everybody offers a 10% discount.
  • Everybody is having a sale.
  • Everybody is having a “special event.”
  • Everybody offers a free gift with purchase.
  • Everybody provides a free estimate.
  • Everybody is available 24/7.
  • Everybody is conveniently located.
  • Everybody has been in business for a long time.
  • Everybody provides great customer service.
  • Everybody provides prompt response.
  • Everyone has a “buy one get one” promotion.
  • Etc.

These types of bland offers go in one ear and out the other. After decades of mass media advertising consumers are essentially numb to them. They do nothing to differentiate your business and encourage potential customers to make their decisions based on price.

Contact Media direct response campaigns take the guesswork out of advertising. All marketing ideas essentially begin with a theory; but there’s no excuse for allowing theories to soak up cash indefinitely without producing a return. We develop, test and evaluate messages, media and markets to determine where the most profitable opportunities are. We test our ideas using low cost media until we achieve target response rates and then scale up once the program is performing. There’s no evasive talk about how to gauge response and no pep rally-style speeches about “sticking with it for a while so your reach and frequency can build up.”

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