7 Things You Need to Know
A second in an occasional series of quick tips you
need to learn — and remember — if you want to be
successful in direct response advertising.
1Yes, 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 pitch-men, 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
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 Direc TV. 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
3It’s all Greek to me. Want to make money? Have fun? Keep your fam-
ily 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 country-
men 3,200 years ago to launch the Trojan War. Direct
response techniques may change, but the core messages
tend to be timeless.
4Stick 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, expe-
rienced attorney can actually be a key member of your
creative team. He or she can keep you out of competi-
tive and regulatory hassles that can cost you millions of
dollars. Sometimes they can actually come up with bet-
ter, safer and even more effective ways to phrase what
you wanted to say in the first place. Who knew?
5More 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.
6Use 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.
7In 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. ■