13 Platinum Advantages Direct Response Marketing
Offers the 21st Century Marketer
There is a lot of chatter about "new media". And the "new economy".
Management guru Peter Drucker says "... the new economy ain't here
Robert Joss, Dean Graduate School of Business, Stanford says; "A
lot of people think the new economy has new truths. It doesn't. The old
truths are still there - the new economy just has new risks and new opportunities."
"A lot of people think the new economy is all about the Internet
... but it's really about customers. ...some dotcoms think of the customer
as just another part of the business. They don't understand the
customer is the core of the business." This from Patricia
Seybold, founder & CEO Patricia Seybold Group
Michael Schrage from the MIT Media Lab has an interesting media statement;
"Advertising has never been worse, thanks to the net. In the coming
wave new and improved will mean tried and true."
And from Beth Synder Bulik in Business 2.0; "We've learned
there really isn't a different set of rules for online and
other branding. What we'll start to see are marketing campaigns that are
These people talk " ... tried and true". They say "...there
isn't a different set of rules ...". And "...the customer is
the core of the business". Plus, "the old truths are still there...".
Well, what a collection of old fashioned, and "yes", traditional
thought. Each from a recognized voice. And each from the middle of the
What does this say? I think it says the basics of marketing have not
The delivery system is going through an upheaval - the standards of marketing
and sales success are as they have been.
Translated further, this thinking says Direct Response Marketing is definitely
If I'm right, and you and I are in the right place at the right time
- what are these standards? These basics.
Let's lay the foundation for success with the 13 Platinum Advantages
Direct Response Marketing Offers the 21st Century Marketer.
Foundation #1. It's Direct!
Each person in your marketplace wants to be talked to as an individual.
The 1:1 concept.
Back to the days when your banker knew you by name. Where you worked,
your kids and dog. When the store owner carried your groceries to your
car. Before everybody was a number, before ATM's, remote control, touch-tone,
voice-mail and self-service just about everything.
Individualism is back. Oh, it's been around since Adam & Eve. Our
sales friends may in fact "laugh" at marketers talking this
"new way of doing business". As selling has been 1:1 since the
Garden of Eden.
Still, it has not been practical for most as a way to market. For many
it is still not the way to go. Yet, when you address your customers -
and your prospects - as real people, you will gain a higher level of positive
response. This is not difficult to understand ... it is common sense.
Direct Response Marketing is Direct. For practical reasons it
may not always be individual. It can always be Direct..
Foundation #2. It's Action Oriented
The #2 idea. ties with the first foundation; Direct Response Marketing
is there to "make something happen". It is Action Oriented.
DRM is not passive - it is active. It almost "demands". It
certainly carries your message to your buyer. And does the sales thing
... it AFTOs ... it Asks For The Order.
It is more than general advertising awareness, positioning and image
building. It is more than education and information. Although it may be
all those things, it goes further.
It urges a response. It directs you to complete the form, return the
card, go to the store, mail back the application, go to a web site, take
a demonstration, visit a trade show stand, call the toll-free number,
fax the order. i.e., DO SOMETHING!
Direct is not subtle. No, it is strong and hard sell. With no apologies.
That is how it works. Period. Direct is Action Oriented.
Foundation #3. It's Fully Measurable
Because Direct Response Marketing is Direct and Action Oriented,
it is Measurable. You know what happens when your campaign is a
Yes, you can count the faxBack forms. The E-mail messages. The number
of business cards in the drum at the trade show booth. The visitors to
your web site. The phone calls requesting the fulfillment kit. Those requesting
a home demonstration.
You know where your leads come from. And the traffic to your store. You
know how many are new prospects vs. old customers. You know the cost per
media, per territory, per sales rep. And of course - you know everything
there is to know about orders!
Generally, advertising, public relations and merchandising cannot be
this precise. It's not that these disciplines are bad - it is they are
different. And not Fully Measurable.
Foundation #4. It's Exceptionally Flexible
DRM frequently is THE way a company sells their product. They are a Direct
Response Marketing firm. They sell the direct way.
Meaning, the tools used to find new customers and serve those they have
are direct tools. DRM is the channel of distribution. They do not use
And then there are those who use DRM as part of their mix. They have
a general advertising campaign, a PR effort, maybe a sales promotion or
special event sponsorship program.
It is neither "right" or "wrong" to go one way or
the other. DRM can be a support tool. Or it can stand on it's own. Because
it is Direct, because it is Action Oriented. Even when it
supports a larger campaign - it is expected to be Measurable. And
DRM is a Flexible discipline. You have many options on how you
can make work for you.
Foundation #5. It's Extremely Versatile
You can do many different things - different ways - with DRM. It is extremely
There are few creative bounds (although there are some very specific
"rules"!). What you do in print or broadcast is limited only
by your imagination. Well, maybe by your budget and timetable, too.
Ditto direct mail. You can send a basic letter/envelope/brochure/response
card package. Or something 3-D. Or a catalogue. A post card or self-mailer.
There are few limits to the size, shape, format or design of your mail.
And you can be personal, too.
Telephony inbound and outbound calling, fax marketing, E-mail and the
WWW allow extreme personalization. These media offer true 1:1 capabilities.
Versatility to the max.
Because Direct Response Marketing is Flexible, it allows you to
be Versatile. You select which tool you need to reach your specific
audience and objective. And you use it ... anywhere and everywhere it
Foundation #6. It's Selective
The most important Foundation point is also the most obvious; You must
send your message to the right audience.
DRM allows you to "talk" to who you need to talk to, when you
need to. With a reason "why" message. Customers or prospects
- when DRM is very Selective it is very successful.
DRM is discriminating. It is not "mass" or random. It is targeted,
specific. It is reaching a very Selective vertical or "different"
audience. A special interest group. Those with a unique collection of
Direct Response Marketing works best when you can first clearly identify
your target audience. And next find a way to get your message to that
group. It is Selective from the start.
Oh, and there is absolutely no give in this Foundation point. It is mandatory
to be Selective. Period!
Foundation #7. It's Personal
David Bovet says; "It's important to be fast, but it's also important
to be fast for the right customers."
In this age of everything fast and faster, it's still best to be Personal.
As the most pleasing sound know to mankind is still their own name. DRM
allows for personalization ... and encourages "name calling".
Before paper and pen we had "databases". A collection of data
about prospects, customers, friends and others, that we used for marketing
and sales. Early on kept in our head - later on a rock or piece of word.
Then paper. Followed by tape and disks. Today electronically.
The concept of a database is not a 19th, 20th or 21st Century invention.
It goes way, way back in time.
What's made it different today is technology. Which gives us the option
to store almost everything - and anything - we know. And then to recall
it when we need that knowledge.
When we are Personal with our message we are most likely to gain
a positive response. Direct Response Marketing allows us to be Personal.
Foundation #8. It's Emotional ... and It's Rational
Most goods and services are sold with a mix of feeling and thinking.
With both an Emotional as well as Rational appeal. Because
people respond with both senses.
My theory is you must show a "need" for your product before
you make the sale. If you cannot demonstrate your customer "needs"
what you have, you will be less successful.
The need must be rational in your buyers mind. They must justify making
this decision. Here's an example of how that happens; research shows that
new car sales are made playing to the customers Emotions.
The same research tells us paying for that car - the financial
part of the transaction - is a very Rational process.
My bet is there is similar research for personal computers. Certainly
software, Internet services, cell phones, cable television and most of
those Sharper Image and Radio Shack electronic gadgets. For both home
DRM is in an excellent position to execute this Foundation idea. Why?
Well, back to point #7. And being Personal; with a database you
will know what message to send to who, and when.
Direct Response Marketing allows - in fact encourages - both an Emotional
as well as Rational message. Because your audience will respond
with both senses.
Foundation #9. It's Confidential
"What matters is what your best core customers think. If something
is important to them, then it's important, period." So says Nick
Poulous, VP eLoyalty.
And of course he is 100% right. Frequently "it" is not how
it is ... it IS how it is perceived to be.
So, if your customers think (or feel) a certain way - you have the responsibility
to respect that direction. You must be Confidential.
DRM is positioned to be the most Confidential media. Because the
database allows you to keep records. And to respond in a Personal
way to each issue, each request from your customers. No other discipline
has the infrastructure to do so.
The WWW has made privacy even more of a marketing factor - because the
web is so "open". Everyone can "see" what's happening
in the marketplace. So, if "bad things" or flat out mistakes
happen, they are shared worldwide in days - if not hours or minutes.
The communication tools of direct mail, the telephone, fax, E-mail and
PIN access web sites give marketers excellent means to keep Confidential
things Confidential. Another advantage of DRM.
Foundation #10. It's a Wonderful Testing Medium
Testing one audience vs. another. One offer against another. A
series of creative approaches against the control. And media vs. other
media ... mail, phone, fax, E-mail, print, broadcast, the Web. Testing
is a primary advantage of Direct Response Marketing.
There was a time Testing was considered the "middle name"
of DRM. In my book it still is. Because you can learn in a very short
time if "A" or "B" is the direction you should really
Testing is not research or a survey or a focus group. Real testing
is being in the marketplace. It is comparing one set of criteria and another.
Audience. Offer. Creative. Media. And many sub-sets of these base points.
There are scores of things you can - and may wish to test. And very few
things you can't test. The WWW has opened the door to easier, quicker
and more thorough Testing. No longer can the excuse of time be
used for not testing.
Testing is an "old" method of learning how to earn the
best bottom line. It is another advantage of DRM in the 21st Century.
Foundation #11. It's Persuasive
Persuasion is a sales word. Direct Response Marketing "Persuades"
the Select audience to take a specific Action. With a Personal
Emotional and Rational message.
That's what DRM is all about. Being Direct . Putting marketing
and sales together. Working as a team to Persuade a prospect to become
a customer. To Persuade a customer to move up the ladder ... to cross-sell
and up-sell. To convince the target group that what you have to offer
is what they need to fulfill their needs. And to prove now is the time
to take Action.
Persuasion is a strong word. It is not "cute", although
it may be happy and fun. It is Direct - in that Action is
the end goal.
Know that DRM techniques mesh your marketing theme with sales objectives,
to reach a positive financial end. Persuasion is the way you do
Foundation #12. It's Economical
DRM is Economical because you begin by talking to the audience
who can buy what you sell. And you do not talk to those who cannot.
The base for being Economical is sending your news to a Selective
audience. To do other wise means you are not being cost-effective. You
enjoy very little waste with Direct Response Marketing. Because the people
who receive your words, your sights and sounds, are interested in what
you offer. That is being Selective ... that is being Economical.
When you have the option to "talk" with only those who are
your best prospects, you are using DRM to the max. Another advantage.
Foundation #13. It's Effective!
Of course it's Effective ... when you follow the first dozen Foundation
points. Especially Personal, Selective, Persuasive.
That's not hard to understand. In fact, it's very easy to accept. Because
when you send your message to a Select audience, Personalize
it, and present it in a Persuasive manner, you should expect
to be Effective.
The difference for Direct Response Marketing vs. other media is with
DRM you have the tools to do it right the first time. Real Testing
reduces judgement calls and flat-out guessing. The database allows you
to use Confidential data in a Confidential way.
You can "plan" on being Effective with DRM. So, do so!
Part of doing so is to know that everything is the same - and everything
will be different. Direct Response Marketing has had a number of "different"
names. And although it has been around for several centuries, the Foundation
points remain pretty much the same. Early in this 21st Century.
Lawrence Bossidy said ... "Show me a great company and I'll show
you one that has radically changed itself and is looking forward to the
opportunity of doing so again."
With DRM you can have it both ways. You can get ready for the "new
media" and the "new economy". And you can be successful
while doing so with Foundation points, based on centuries of experience.