Direct Marketing For Beginners

by | Marketing, Branding, Business | 0 comments

The ninth in our series on the basic elements of online marketing.

What is direct response marketing?

Direct response marketing is a style of marketing that aims to elicit an immediate reaction from prospects by persuading them to take a specified action, without the intervention of a middleman or third party. Because the aim is to generate sales and create leads rapidly, direct response marketing is designed to elicit immediate action from prospects in a manner that can be tracked and measured. Unlike traditional marketing methods which aspire to develop brand recognition and promote brand image over time, direct response marketing focuses on talking to the viewer directly to answer a specific need and induce concrete measurable consumer action.

An effective direct response marketing campaign will skillfully combine a value proposition*, pitch, and call-to-action into a single piece of content. As a result of this method, the prospect moves fast from the consideration stage to the decision stage.

In a nutshell, you know you are looking at direct response marketing when you see advertising material that is directly addressing a want or need you may have, in a format that allows the advertiser to track your response and gather data about the marketing material’s performance.

*Note: A value proposition refers to the value a company offers, or promises to deliver to customers to entice them to purchase their product or service.

Why is it direct marketing important

Direct marketing is successful because it allows you to target a predefined audience with tailored information. Given that you are not aiming for a broad, and loosely defined audience, this sort of marketing can be cost-effective. Due to the campaigns’ individualized character, these initiatives will be less expensive to launch initially than conventional marketing. As a result of targeting individuals that are already interested in your goods or service, conversion rates are higher than when approaching a cold audience via blanket public advertising campaigns.

Because it enables you to concentrate scarce resources where they are most likely to provide results, it is a particularly helpful tool for small enterprises. By examining answers, you may effectively gauge a campaign’s success. Before creating a comprehensive campaign, you can test your marketing by selecting a representative sample of your target demographic to discover what generates the greatest response rates.

Using direct marketing, you can bring in new business, foster client loyalty, re-establish strained connections with customers, and improve sales to current clients.

3 Key Components of a Direct Marketing Ad

To get the most of this format of advertisement, there are several key features that must be included. While some of these have been alluded to already, let’s look at the 3 core features that every direct marketing ad must include:

#1 The offer

What are you offering? Your direct marketing ad MUST answer this question. Someone looking at your ad must be able to answer this question. Obscurity is not your friend. Using plain terms, explain exactly what it is you want to offer. What are you proposing? 20% off for 7 days? Buy one get two free?

Not all direct marketing ads are designed to get the person to immediately make a purchase. You could, for example, simply seek to get the person to take action on an offer to trial your products for free.

Maybe you have a perfume, a cleaning tool, a type of lip gloss, powdered protein supplement. Whatever it is, whatever your goal is, you should have a specific offer that you are making to the viewer.

What is your offer? How does it address their wants or needs? How can you express this in an attention grabbing way?

#2 Information

It’s all well and good making an offer, but you’ll need some information to both sell that offer, and explain it to ensure there isn’t any confusion.

Obviously, the amount of information needed is going to differ greatly between product offerings. If you have a highly technical precision instrument, your copy is going to be a lot more in-depth than the guy flogging lip balm to surfer girls.

The body of text in your advertisement is a good place to address the needs and wants of your audience also, and to explain how your product addresses the readers’ pain points. While well known products don’t require too much explanation, unique and innovative products probably will.

Depending on your chosen advertising format and platform, you may only have seconds to get their attention, so you want to make sure that your wording is efficient and punchy. People are bombarded with choice, and know that they can scroll on by and easily find someone else offering a similar product. You need to quickly provide the information that tells them why YOU can address their desires in a way others can’t.

What sets your product or service apart? What is the value it brings to the table? How can you persuade your reader/viewer/listener to see that value? Your copy should address these questions with relevant, thoughtfully and strategically written content.

#3 A Call To Action (also known as a CTA)

You may have made an offer, you may even have explained it well with relevant information. But what if your customer doesn’t know what to do with the offer? What if they don’t know how to take advantage of that offer? What action are they supposed to take in order to redeem your offer?

Do they present a coupon somewhere? Do they scan a code? Do they submit their email on a certain website? Do they howl at the moon shortly before a full lunar eclipse while wearing a mankini?

What the hell are they supposed to do?

This is the question you need to answer for the viewer, with a clear, direct, simple and unequivocal call to action. Your call to action takes the bewildered (and hopefully intrigued) customer and tells them what to do next.

You CANNOT make a good direct marketing ad without a solid call to action.

“click on this link”

“comment below on this video”

“click the download link and tell us the first word on page 43”

“subscribe by clicking the icon below”

“Head to your local (whatever brand name) outlet and show them this voucher code”

“scan this QR code onscreen and show it in-store”

“enter this code when checking out and making a purchase of over $100 for 20% off”

So there’s the top 3 things that you must do in a direct marketing ad:

Make your offer.

Give the info.

Tell them what to do.

But, to flesh out what we’ve learnt so far, let’s recap some of the key points mentioned in this article. For a direct marketing ad to be successful, you need to:

Make an easy to understand offer

Target a specific demographic or group

Customise the ad to suit the target audience

Make a direct call to a specific action

Explain the benefits/value

Ensure the ad metrics can be tracked, and performance measured

Obviously, the amount of information needed is going to differ greatly between product offerings. If you have a highly technical precision instrument, your copy is going to be a lot more in-depth than the guy flogging lip balm to surfer girls.

Common direct marketing formats

Direct marketing needn’t be complex. It is most often seen in fact, in the simplest and most obvious of formats including (but obviously not limited to) text messages, targeted online display ads, newsletters, fliers, emails, coupons, catalogs, YouTube video ads and more.

Advantages of Direct Marketing

Test and measure your products and sales performance

Direct marketing is a great for determining how much your customers want your items and how willing they are to try out new ones by observing analytics data in real time as you roll out an ad campaign. You may test and modify your marketing strategies and campaigns at your own pace, and tweak or cull under-performing elements

Personalize ad campaigns

Ad platforms can be carefully selected and managed so as to show ads to those most likely to be interested in your products. Practically, this results in higher click through rates and ultimately sales, as you aren’t wasting time screaming into the void of people who have zero interest in what you are offering.

Perfect for time-starved audiences (as in, pretty much everyone these days)

A large part of the success of the direct marketing format is that adverts of this type do not beat around the bush. Almost everyone these days is drowning in burdens, stress and a million unnecessary time-sucking social obligations. Though not always the case, direct marketing is often delivered as short-form punchy ads, that leave the viewer in no doubt as to what is being offered in few words. This is advantageous to newer businesses looking to quickly boost positive (and profitable) engagement with the buying public.

The Parting Shot

Unlike often ethereal or obscure branding campaigns, direct marketing is the ad-man’s way of busting through the door and (politely) shoving their offer in the face of an audience. The expectation is that action will be taken, and believe us, when your ads are crafted well, action will be taken indeed. The vast majority of ads take the direct marketing approach and for good reason. In general, people like to know up front what they are being offered, and how to take advantage of that offer. If your goal is to smash your sales figures and make a serious change to your profit in a short period of time, thoughtfully designed direct marketing can (and will) do that for you.


Want to sell, but never made an ad in your life? Don’t know your SEO from your NGO or your PTO? Don’t worry, that’s what we’re here for. Contact us anytime, you’ll be glad you did.

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