Rieck's Response Letter from Direct Creative at www.DirectCreative.com
September 2007
Back to Past Issues

Rieck's Response Letter is a publication of Direct Creative

Contact: Dean Rieck
Phone: 614-882-8823
E-mail: Dean@DirectCreative.com

>>> FORWARD this newsletter to your colleagues and friends.
Did you get this newsletter second-hand? Subscribe FREE.

Quote of the Month

"The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it's an ad." -Howard Luck Gossage

Response Booster

Make sure you're doing direct marketing ... not something else!

There are lots of ways to sell things. But if you want to sell via direct marketing, there are three things you must do in your advertisement:
  1. You must make an offer.
  2. You must include enough information for immediate acceptance of the offer.
  3. You must provide a mechanism for responding to the offer.
If you fail to do any one of these things, you simply are not doing direct marketing. You may be using a medium associated with direct marketing, such as direct mail, but you aren't doing direct marketing. What are you doing? Wasting your money.

Quick Tips

Don't waste time on minutiae. Test the BIG stuff!
You've heard the stories about direct mail companies testing the tilt of a stamp or inserting misspelled words into a letter to see if it increases response. Maybe that happens sometimes, but successful mailers know that it's a competitive world out there. And big results come from testing big things such as products, media, offers, formats, lists, and creative platforms.

Don't sell cheapness. Sell bargains.
It's not a trivial distinction. People don't want to buy "cheap" products. They want to think they can afford the best cars, clothes, food, TVs, and other items, but without paying the high price. That means your job is to convince people your wares are high quality and worth a lot. Then you can surprise them with a low price. Build value then sell a bargain.

Boost your response with personalization. It works!
Personalization technology used to be pretty clunky stuff. You would preprint a sheet with blank areas then ink-jet in a name or other data. It worked, but the ugly look prevented a lot of people from trying it. Today with digital printing technology, it's becoming easier to personalize seemlessly, including headlines, text, order forms, brochures, anything. If you've been putting off testing personalization, it's time you try it. I use it whenever possible and it works!

Repeat yourself. Repeat yourself. Repeat yourself.
There's an old saying about effective communication: "Tell them what you are going to tell them. Tell them. Then tell them what you told them." That's especially true in direct response advertising. People are not sitting around waiting for your sales pitch. Whether you're calling them, sending a letter or e-mail, or running a print ad, you are interrupting something else they are doing. You almost never have their full attention. So you have to be repetitive to get your message across. You have to say it over and over. You must use redundancy and repeat yourself. Have I mentioned that you have to be repetitive?

Doing an e-mail campaign? Two words: Landing Page!
It's amazing to me that otherwise smart marketers will understand that you have to include a specific order form in a direct mail package, but don't seem to understand that you have to set up a specific landing page for an e-mail offer. Sending people to your home page may be convenient, but it's death for any offer you make with e-mail, unless your home page is a landing page already where your offer is being made and you include a fill-in form. Landing pages are not difficult or expensive to set up. And you can create several, each for a different offer. Ignore this advice at your peril.


8 Proven Offers To Raise Response

Offers are the heart of all direct marketing. An offer is not just a statement of your price, it is the deal you're making — what the customer gets plus what the customer has to do or pay to get it.
By making an offer, you are saying, "You do this for me, and I'll do this for you." Naturally, the better your offer is, the better your response will be.
Here are eight offers that have proven themselves over the years. They almost always raise your response rate:
  • Free Trial — This may be the best offer ever devised. A customer can try out your product free and without obligation for 10 days, 15 days, 30 days, or more. The time frame should fit the product. This offer removes risk for the prospect, overcomes inertia, and works with just about any product.
  • Money-Back Guarantee — This is perhaps the second best offer. A customer pays upfront, but if dissatisfied can return the item for a full refund. Like the free trial, this offer removes risk, but allows you to use customer inertia to your benefit, since few people will take the trouble to return something.
  • Free Gift — When you offer a freebie your customer wants, your offer will usually out pull a discount offer of similar value. That's because a gift is a more tangible benefit. It's an extra. This also has the advantage of not devaluing your product with a price reduction.
  • Limited-time — An offer with a time limit gets more response than an offer without one, especially when you give a specific deadline. This forces a decision, and the faster you can force a decision, the more likely it will be in your favor.
  • Yes/No Offer — You ask your prospect to respond positively or negatively, usually by affixing a "yes" stamp or a "no" stamp or by checking one of two boxes. This offer is involving and usually pulls more response than an offer that does not offer a "no" option. It works because it clarifies the need for a decision.
  • Negative Option — This pulls better than positive option offers. It's often used with book and CD clubs, where the merchandise will be shipped automatically unless the customer takes action to refuse the order by a specified date.
  • Credit Card Payment — Nothing is easier than paying with plastic. These days, there's no reason to not accept payment this way — by phone, mail, fax, or the Internet.
  • Sweepstakes — This increases your order volume if you're selling easy-to-understand impulse items. However these customers aren't loyal, and you may find yourself forever trapped in an endless cycle of contests.
Raising response is not your only concern, of course. It may be more profitable to get a lower response from a more loyal group of buyers, for example. Or you want orders to come in faster. Or you need to lower your cost per sale.

In most cases, though, it's best to start by getting your response rate high, then adjusting your offer over time to maximize your profits. Every offer you make has different characteristics. So, it pays to test, test, test.

Back to Past Issues

Dean Rieck is an internationally respected copywriter, designer, and consultant who has created direct mail and ads for more than 200 clients.

Phone: 614-882-8823
E-mail: Dean@DirectCreative.com
Web: www.DirectCreative.com

Copyright 2007 Dean Rieck. All Rights Reserved.