direct response

Direct Response Marketing: How to Use It

Direct response marketing helps you make a memorable personal impression with a variety of people and is critical to gaining attention for your new business.

If you are persistent and persuasive these contacts will turn into customers.

And your new customers will provide cash (hopefully) to propel your business from the survival phase into the growth phase.

Once you are enjoying a steady stream of income you can consider new promotional tools, which if used effectively, can boost your sales dramatically. Direct response marketing, also know as “direct mail” is one of these advanced marketing techniques.

But you should proceed with caution because direct response marketing can consume a significant amount of your money in a very short time period.

The key is to wait to use these tools until you are clear about whom you really want to sell, why they buy and what you want to say to them.

Experiment in your networking and publicity with different stories about your company and its products and services.

Try out different groups of prospects with slightly different selling stories.

Note carefully what seems to gain attention and stir interest and what seems to be ignored.

At this point you not be investing a lot of money to find out what works.

Once you are confident that you understand what approach can achieve the success of the AIDA formula — Gain attention, create interest, stimulate desire and ask for action — then you will want to do more of it as quickly as you can.

Direct response marketing and advertising can produce impressive results quickly.

What is Direct Response Marketing

Direct response marketing refers to techniques where you go directly to customers, asking them send you money and orders through the mail or over a telephone order line. You don’t need a factory or store, just an attractive product, some money and some knowledge.

There are a number of ways to use direct response marketing:

  1. Build sales leads. By responding, people qualify themselves as good prospects for your product or service.
  2. Boost store traffic. A personal invitation to visit will attract buyers to your store.
  3. Get new business from old customers. Direct response marketing reminds them that you exist.
  4. Keep current customers. Let your customers know you appreciate them — drop them a note regularly.
  5. Introduce new products. Going directly to a potential buyer first can tell you whether you should proceed with other marketing.

Your intent when using direct response marketing is not to just attract prospective buyers, but to get them to buy — right now, right here!

Ways to Go Direct to  Your Customer

There are a number of ways used to produce interest and orders directly from customers:

  1. Sampling. When you offer the first half-hour of consultation free, you are providing a sample. Of course, sampling is done extensively by marketers of consumer products such as food.
  2. Price incentives. You cannot compete day to day by cutting your prices below your competition. But you can effectively attract customers by offering special pricing deals. For example, an annual sales, offering something free along with your product, or grouping several products together at a price lower than they would sell separately.
  3. Giveaways. A whole industry exists to provide you with personalized giveaways — the advertising specialty business. To be effective your giveaway should be something useful and something that relates to the nature of your business.
  4. Flyers and brochures. These sales promotion pieces represent the most commonly used form of direct response marketing for small businesses, for example passing out flyers for your home cleaning service.
  5. Trade shows. There are thousands of gatherings of buyers and sellers each year. In a typical two-day trade show your company’s story can be seen by more than one thousand potential customers. Beware:Trade shows can be very expensive. You must have a very clear idea of what you hope to achieve.
  6. Seminars and demonstrations. When you are selling a service it is difficult to deliver a sample once person at a time. An alternative is to attract 50 to 100 people at one time by offering them a free or low-cost seminar demonstrating what your service will do for them.
  7. Direct mail and telemarketing. These two techniques are sufficiently involved to deserve their own discussion.

Types of Direct Mail

There are three main types of direct mail marketing:

  1. Offers and catalogs sent through the mail
  2. Offer made over the telephone
  3. Offers through magazine and newspaper ads

For most new businesses, catalogs are far too expensive to produce and mail. Selling over the phone is getting harder to do each year. This technique often works better with business prospects than with consumers.

The most common direct mail techniques for small businesses are direct mail packages and newspaper and magazine ads.

The New Generation of Direct Mail

Traditionally, direct mail has involved mailing out massive numbers of envelopes to broadly defined groups of customers, hoping that one or two in a hundred will buy.

Small business cannot afford such extravagance. instead small businesses today use very focused communications materials sent a very select list of prospects.

Personal computers allow great flexibility in composing direct mail selling materials and professional creation and management of mailing lists.

This automation allows a one person business to create and prepare to mail 200 to 300 pieces of direct mail in just one day.

There are two keys to successful direct mail marketing, particularly when you are on a tight budget:

  1. An offer that is simple but persuasive and asks for action that will be convenient to take;
  2. A mailing list that provides as specifically as possible just the kind of people you want to buy from you.

Finding the Right Mailing List

Even the most creative mailing piece can go to waste if it mailed to people who don’t care about your product or service.

Before you start to look for a list you need to have done your market research to discover who are your target customers.

The more specifically you can describe them, the more accurately you can find a mailing list that matches them.

There are thousands of lists of names available to rent.

They usually come in the form of pressure-sensitive labels and their cost is quoted as $/M which is dollars per thousand names.

One of the most comprehensive listings of mailing lists is the SRDS Direct Mail Lists, Rates and Data, available in larger libraries.

We like to develop our own mailing lists, although it takes longer than buying someone else’s list.

We do this by offering a 20-page booklet we have written through press releases and small classified ads. Everyone who buys has their name and address recorded in a computer program known as a database.

We have our computer hooked up to a small label printed to create our own mailing labels whenever we want them.

Successful Direct Mail Ads

There is probably no area of marketing that has been researched more completely than direct mail. This is particularly true of direct mail ads. Some of the keys that the experts site are:

  1. Use a friendly, but catchy headline at the top
  2. Keep copy short and be sure to list a lot of benefits
  3. Make a promise with ad, such as: “learn Spanish in 15 days”
  4. Put a time limit on your ad, such as: “order today, quantities are limited”
  5. Ask the reader to take some action, for example: “call today to place your order”

Most larger libraries have several books on the fine points of direct mail advertising.

Particularly study the chapters that describe how to estimate the cost of a mailing and its likely return.


You already know how to use the phone to transmit information, but do you know how to use it to make money?

There are several key results you can attain with telemarketing:

  1. Qualify prospects without expensive in-person sales calls
  2. Obtain sales appointments
  3. Measure the response of your customers immediately
  4. Communicate more personally than you can through the mail
  5. Provide highly personalized response to the customers needs

Just as when you are preparing to take part in a play, professional telemarketers create a “script” of what they want to say and rehearse it before they start to make calls.

Decide which primary goal you want to achieve

  1. To get a sales appointment
  2. To get a response to a survey
  3. To get the prospect to request more information
  4. To get an order on the spot

Once you have gotten customers, telemarketing can be very valuable in obtaining repeat sales, making your customers feel more special, announcing “specials” and getting feed back on new product ideas.

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