13 Platinum "To Do's" To Get More Response
I agree with this statement:
"Each and every
element in a direct mail package, space ad, on your website - anywhere - is
Yet, often the response device of a direct marketing campaign appears to
have resulted from left over thinking.
Since the bottom line is response - here are 13 Platinum "To
Do's" To Get More Response from your next DM effort. From your direct
mail BRCard, application form, faxback sheet, coupon in mail or a newspaper
or magazine, off your web site. No matter the media, no matter the device: 13 things "to do".
1. Begin with DIRFT ... & send your message to the right
Always, the basics: spend more time up front making certain your message
is aimed at the right audience.
That's what DIRFT says ... Do It Right the
To be as successful as you can be, sending your message to the right
audience is NOT an option - it is mandatory. For even a poorly constructed
collection of words, with a horrid design and a weak offer has a chance of
working when the right people see it, receive it.
The opposite is true when your news hits the wrong target. A great piece
of copy, superbly designed, beautifully produced and directed to the wrong
people is absolutely guaranteed to fail. It's not even debatable.
Start with the back-end first. Think "how am I going to get my audience
to reply?" That process alone will get you to focus on the right audience.
2. Tell me exactly what you want me to do
And be clear about it, too!
If you want me to come to your store or your exhibit space, tell me. If
you want me to phone your toll-free number to register for a survey, to
answer a survey, to learn about your special offer, tell me.
If you need me to complete the faxback sheet and send it to you before
the next step, tell me why and tell me to do it. If you need me to complete
the app and return it before I earn your premium, tell me.
If you need me to fill out the coupon and mail it in, tell me. If you
need money - tell me. If I can pay by check, credit card, money order, or if
you'll accept a purchase order, tell me.
That is, tell your audience exactly what you need them to do. If your
message is unclear you will receive fewer responses. And some you do receive
will be unqualified to do business with you.
Tell me what to do and I'm likely to do it.
3. Make it easy for me to do it - to respond
The easier it is for your audience to do business with you the more
likely they are to do business with you.
The opposite is true, too. If you are difficult, fewer of your prospects
will work through your maze.
Yes, sometimes you want some upfront qualifying. You really do not want
tons of responses. Maybe your product is new. Maybe it is a new marketplace
for you. Maybe you have new people. Maybe, maybe, maybe. And you really want
only a qualified few.
Fine ... when this is the case, make it easy ONLY for those you wish to
reach. More difficult for others. Require the many to do something you will
not require the few to do. Maybe your sort is by size, location, volume -
anything. Some get qualified "out". Others very much "IN"!
Remember, the fewer steps your audience must take the more likely you are
to receive a response to your offer.
4. Give me more than a single way to respond
Part of making it easy is offering multiple ways to reach you. In
business-to-business today it is mandatory to have at least 4 options:
||phone, which can be a toll-free
number, but does not have to be,
||fax, today most often with a
pre-printed and personalized form,
||mail, yes, slower, and frequently
less threatening and easier for your market,
||E-mail, no longer an option - your
B-2-B market expects you to be able to handle an E response.
And for some, 2 more ways . . .
||WWW, a web site, and
||walk-in, yes, front-door traffic.
For some consumer products and services the same collection applies. And
for others, more! Take, for instance, the financial marketplace. How many
ways can you bank? Let's count:
... walk-in ... ATM ... drive-through ... night drop ...
... fax ... E-mail ... Web site ... "snail-mail" ...
and at a competitors location or ATM.
Are there others to this list of 10? I'd not be surprised
Make it easy for your prospects to become customers. Give them many ways
to do business with you.
5. Make me an offer I can't refuse
Your offer is a prime reason many of your prospects will become your
An offer allows those "undecided" to consider you. It gives them a reason
(vs. excuse) to say: "Okay, let's look at what these guys can do for us."
An offer also gives those who do know you a solid reason to stick with
you. And not fly to the competition.
Offers are over and above your collection of benefits. Frequently it is
NOT the reason someone buys. It IS the reason they STOP ... pause ... think
... and consider you. It is an "extra". It is over and above your benefit
Offers can be almost anything. More for less. Less for less. An "extra"
when you make a commitment. They can be tied to a visit or other action by
the prospect. A premium for taking a demo.
An offer is mandatory in direct marketing ... if you are to enjoy maximum
success. Always make an offer.
6. Make it a LTO - limited time offer
More than ever, limited time offers make sense.
Why? Because people feel they are busier than ever before. "Change" has
always been a tough sell - more so today. Because there is less time to
consider something new, different, unusual.
Combine this thinking with the fact there are more choices than ever
before - many times the prospect will say: "I'm happy where I am."
Yet, putting a drop dead date on an offer frequently will move that
hesitant person to action. If there is only a short time to take advantage
of a special opportunity - often you will enjoy more response. People will
do something vs. doing nothing. Rather than wait until they feel good, are
more comfortable ... whatever "excuse" they were thinking ... they move.
Try a Limited Time Offer. It may increase your
7. Use BOLD graphics, show the product, show the offer
We live in a color and graphic world. I've a couple of granddaughters who
do not know black and white ever existed.
This "fact" is neither good nor bad. It IS a fact. And we in direct
marketing need to be alert that copy works better when the graphics are
Another fact is people buy benefits - not features. So, show the
"benefits" of your product. Even if you have a service, "demonstrate" with
illustrations the benefits to the buyer. What they will get when they do
business with you.
Yet, a warning: great graphics that do not support the message are not
great graphics. You still need to look like who you are. Like your product
and service. If you're selling a Rolls Royce - look rich. If your product is
The Salvation Army - look poor.
8. Get me "involved" ... use action devices
Even the least of us is fascinated with things that move, open, close,
pop-up, wiggle, sing, light-up, turn-on, ring, chime, fit together, come
apart, tear, stick, peel, smell, taste.
We like "things" that DO something.
One of the best ways to get attention is to have an action response
device. Where your prospect gets "involved". Where they must do something to
get to the next step.
As simple as moving your logo sticker to a "Yes" box on the reply card.
Or putting together a puzzle that tells a story. Or peeling back an emblem,
and then scratching it for an aroma. Tearing along the perforated dotted
line - keeping one part, mailing the other part. Even the action of putting
a card in box gets your prospect involved.
As you develop your offer for your audience, think your creative and your
media - think "how can I get the max amount of action?!"
9. Use clear, crisp, concise, & positive copy
English is the largest language in the world. 625,000+ words, give or
take a few thousand.
Spanish is next - 475,000. In comparison French has less than 100,000
Yet, even with "just 100,000", we have tremendous choice of language.
Back to English: the 500 most common words have 13,000 meanings!
What this says is you have many options on what words to use. And ... you
do NOT need to use them all!
Even though you may be learned in the topic, that does not mean you need
to throw your PhD around. When your audience has a PhD, that does not mean
they know anything about your product, your service.
The best writing for marketing and sales is the language you use in
everyday conversation. The face-to-face communication you have. As easy as
reading the newspaper, listening to the late night television news.
Final point: write so junior high school 13-14 year kids can read the
words. And pretty much get the message. If you're over the head of the kids
on your block, you will be beyond understanding of most of your marketplace.
Write to be understood. Marketing is communication - communicate for
10. Give me a guarantee, and an absolute guarantee of
Having a guarantee is not an option. Your market expects it.
Over time products have "automatically" been guaranteed. Retailers were
leaders. People like Sears made promises to their customers that they could
always return a product. For any reason.
Mail-order giants like L.L. Bean have always offered wonderful
guarantees. The best in the business is from Land's End:
No matter your product or service, no matter the industry you are in,
today customers expect you to offer a guarantee. So, do it!
And make a big deal out of your guarantee. Put it in writing, inside a
gingerbread stock certificate looking border. Make certain it is everywhere.
On your literature. With your product shipments. In plain view at your
store. On your WWW site. And everything you print.
Separately, yet equally important, your customer expects you to satisfy
their needs. This has nothing to do with your product or service ... this
has everything to do with customer loyalty.
"Your product works. It does everything you say. It was delivered on
time. Service has been excellent. Yet, I am unhappy - I made a buying
decision I'd like to change. I want to give you the product back ... I want
you to give me my money back."
What do you do when you hear this? Sure, it depends. Yet, you know what
the customer expects. And you need to be prepared to not only offer a
guarantee - you need to offer a Customer Satisfaction Guarantee.
11. Take the space you need to
tell your story ... and then
give me room to write!
Some marketers take pages and pages and pages to share their story. And
give the prospect a tiny, tiny space to complete the response card, faxback,
Do what it takes to make 100% certain your response card or form has
plenty of space for reading ... and writing. This is a good time to think
If necessary, use a larger sheet of paper. Yes, jumbo costs more. What
costs even more is NOT receiving a reply simply because your response card
was jammed, crammed, stuffed and unreadable.
Use 11 or 12 point type - even larger. Make your reply device a minimum
of 2 colors. Use graphics to make it interesting. AND give your reader room
12. Include a summary of your message, AND all your ID -
everything - on your reply device.
Once your message is in the hands and eyes of the consumer, you are at
You don't know if they'll read it now, keep it to read later, route it to
someone else, or toss it. We all know what happens to many missiles we send
to our prospects and customers:
... they do get looked at
... they do get opened
... they get looked at - again
... they get set aside for "reading" later.
Which is exactly why you must be certain your full message and full
identification is on your application, faxback, response card, coupon -
everything in your direct mail. Plus, complete in print and through-out your
This means your offer and anything you know is important about it. e.g.,
it is a Limited Time Offer.
This also means your full logo, name, address, phone, fax, E-mail, WWW
site need to be prominent. Easy to find, easy to read, easy to use.
Make it easy for your prospect to become your customer. Let them find
13. End with AFTO ... and do it more than single time
AFTO equals Ask For The Order. Really,
a sales axiom.
Which is as applicable in marketing. It simply means communicate with
your audience you do want to do business with them. We've learned people
like to do business with people who want to do business with them. So, tell
And do it several times. Rarely is once enough. The word "Yes", used
several times on your printed response card or faxback, on your WWW site,
allows your reader options. They have a number of ways to tell you "Yes".
Reach out to your audience and ask for their business. And do it again
and again. AFTO works for sales reps ... it works in marketing, too.
Well, that's it. 13 Platinum "To Do's" To Get More Response
Use them all and enjoy a higher level of response, sales and profits.
About Ray Jutkins, October 3rd, 1936 — January 6th, 2005. Ray was one
of the NMOA’s most generous contributors.
Over the years Ray supplied the NMOA with hundreds of tips and articles for
members. This is just one of many. Ray worked with B-2-B and consumer
clients throughout the world ... including the USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the
South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central and South America, Africa.
Keep an eye out for more of Ray’s marketing tips and how-to articles in the
pages of Direct Marketing
Digest and the article archive on the NMOA website.