Direct Creative - Copy & Design for Direct Marketing
July 2009

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Dear Dean,

This month, I'm going to break from the usual newsletter format and give you a short excerpt from my recently released white paper on boosting direct mail response in today's difficult market.

I created this free white paper for my clients, colleagues, subscribers, and blog readers. Even if you're not involved with direct mail, you will find simple and practical ideas for understanding what's going on in the economy now and how you can deal with it.

Feel free to download the entire white paper. And I encourage you to FORWARD THIS E-MAIL to all your contacts and to bookmark, Tweet, Stumble, and otherwise share the download page:

The download link sends you to a newsletter subscription page. But if you're already subscribed, just click the link at the bottom to download the white paper.


White Paper Excerpt

Getting Response in a Down Economy: 4 Key Principles to Boost Your Direct Mail Profits in Today's Difficult Market

The Challenge of Today's Market

There's no doubt about it. Business is tough out there. Every day brings more unsettling economic news. And even though direct marketing companies tend to be "smarter than the average bear" and far more efficient than most other business types, our industry is feeling the pinch the same as everyone else.

If you're a business owner, you're concerned about lagging sales. If you're a marketing manager, you're struggling with an ev er tightening budget. If you're a vendor, you're at the mercy of clients who are putting projects on hold or bringing them in-house.

The result has been budget cuts and a general pull-back of advertising and marketing efforts. "How can we make a big profit?" is being replaced with "How can we avoid a big loss?" It's a natural reaction. However, are knee jerk budget cuts the best answer to this challenging market?

What's REALLY Happening Out There

The market is more resilient than some pundits would have you believe. All we need to do is look to the past to see that this is true. Economies run in cycles. Boom and bust is a natural and inevitable process. Because this has happened so frequently, history shows us that economic downturns do not signal the end of business as we know it.

Quite the contrary. History shows us two important facts: markets always recover and those who panic end up losers.

Nothing has fundamentally changed about the marketplace. Resources, infrastructure, and a robust consumer population still exist. Yes, there are real problems out there, such as a high unemployment rate. But what gets lost in the conversation is that if the unemployment rate is, say, 8%, this means 92% of the population IS working. And even those who are between jobs are not living on the streets.

In other words, the sky is not falling. What's really happening is that:
1. Fear and uncertainty underlie many decisions now.
2. People are postponing many buying decisions.
3. More decisions are being made on price.

So it's not that people aren't buying. They ARE buying, it's just that they're slower and more cautious, so it's harder to sell to them. Harder, not impossible. That's an important distinction, because if you assume people don't want to buy now, you will make less effort to sell to them than yo u should and may end up suppressing your own profits.

Understand Your Customers

Each morning when you wake up, say this five times: "It's ALL about psychology." This is true for the economy and it's the key to direct response advertising as well. Your customers are uncertain and afraid, but they are still essentially the same customers you've always had.

All the same psychological principles apply, though some are now playing a more prominent roll. By understanding this and allowing this knowledge to guide your selling strategy, you can give yourself a powerful advantage now and in the boom years to come.
  • People love to buy. They love to discover wonderful new products and experiences. In America, and increasingly around the world, people see commerce as a natural and appealing activity.
  • People make buying decision s emotionally. They decide based on a feeling, need, or emotion. That's why intangible benefits are generally the key to persuasion. For any given promotion, you should ask yourself, "What is the emotional hot button here?"
  • People need to justify decisions logically. While people make emotional decisions, they justify those decisions with logic and facts. You should always give people the appropriate justification for making a purchase.
  • People want to avoid risk. People pursue gain, but the urge to avoid loss is more powerful because it works on a more basic level. In direct marketing, people usually can't see you or the thing you're promoting before they part with their money. So there is always a level of distrust and suspicion you must overcome.
  • People seek value. Value is not a fixed number. It is a subjective relationship between the thing you are selling and what people perceive its worth to be. The greater the value relative to the price, the more likely people will respond to your offer.
  • People buy direct because of convenience and exclusivity. Don't fool yourself. If your customers could easily find the things you offer at a nearby store, that's probably where most would buy them because the perceived risk is lower.
Has any of this changed? No. People are still people. However, while a well-written headline and eye-catching photo can still make someone want what you're offering, your customer's fear and logic circuits are now operating on overdrive. They need stronger justification and greater value than ever before.
They also need more assurance that their financial risk is minimal or even that the purchase will save them money.

These aren't foreign concepts. We know these ideas well. Today's market simply requires more attention to them than when the marketplace was flush with cash.
So if you are savvy enough to sell with one set of psychological conditions, you are savvy enough to sell with another set. In fact, as a direct marketer, you are better equipped to adapt to these modified conditions than virtually any other type of business.

Download and continue reading the white paper.
  • The Hidden Opportunities of a Down Market
  • Getting Your Mind Right
  • The 4 Key Principles
  • The Takeaway
  • Getting Back to Basics - Direct Marketing 101 (Page 6)
  • 3 Simple Ways to Reduce Direct M ail Costs (Page 8)
  • Boost Profits by Testing Cheaper Formats (Page 9)
  • A Short Course on Testing (Page 10)
  • General Rules for Running a Good Test (Page 12)
  • Copy in Direct Marketing (Page 14)
  • 7 Proven Copy Formulas (Page 15)
  • Basic Appeals - What People What (Page 16)
  • How to Build Credibility with Testimonials (Page 19)
  • Clever Ways to Build Credibility (Page 20)
  • Reduce Perceived Risk with a Guarantee (Page 21)
  • Make an Irresistible Offer (Page 24)
  • 60 Proven Direct Mail Offers (Page 26)
  • Stone's 30 Timeless Direct Marketing Principles (Page 33)
Download your copy now

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

Phone: 614-882-8823

Copyright 2009 Dean Rieck. All Rights Reserved.
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