Direct response advertising and direct marketing requires Great Courage to be successful for several important reasons.
First of all, you have, maybe, 5 seconds to grab attention, another 10, 20, 30 seconds at most to convince the person to read further, you have to suck ‘em in like a carnival barker promising a naked three-breasted woman snake charmer just inside the tent. Direct response advertising is not the time or place to be subtle or gentle or “professional” (whatever that is).
You have to risk the scorn and anger of your peers, the disgust of your own family or staff, the derision of those who will certainly be offended by your brash approach, you have to “all in”. There’s an incredibly cluttered advertising environment.
Several years ago…only two weeks after the Super Bowl, I offered a $100.00 bill to three different people who watched the game, if they could correctly name an advertiser and describe their commercial. They could recall only three commercials, but couldn’t match them with their advertisers.
One guy described two commercials: Burt and bear, and woman at Senate hearing with tight top coming off, but could not identify the advertiser behind either one.
So, you’ve got to reach out and grab them by throat or testicles and get in their face and shove your small business marketing message in their face.
Halbert talks about the necessary willingness to commit “image suicide” to get maximum response. Of course, there are times you might not want maximum response.
You may be willing to consciously trade away response for other objectives. Key word: consciously.
Second, direct-response is not interactive. The prospect can’t talk back, ask questions, raise objections, so you need the courage to do these things for him. For example, in sales letters selling high-priced boot camps for my clients in niche industries, I actually bring up the possibility that the reader may still have the kit he bought wrapped in plastic, gathering dust on a closet shelf.
Or may have tried doing something in the kit and gotten disappointing results. It takes COURAGE to bring up Bad Things in a letter asking them to make another, bigger purchase.
Third, direct-response is all about SELLING. That takes a lot more COURAGE than does brand-building or image advertising, because all that other stuff is nearly impossible to measure and hold accountable.
It’s a great place for incompetents and charlatans to hide out. It takes COURAGE to create a sales funnel, directly ask for action, and present a deadline.
Share your courageous stories in the comments below!