Thinking Properly about Direct Response Marketing

Thinking properly about Direct Response Marketing

I attended a fairly small meeting hosted by Dan Kennedy and his associate, owner of Forbes
Books, Adam Witty with Ken Fisher, obviously of Fisher Investments. Fisher was explaining to us how, when he was still relatively small by growing company, the direct response marketing he was doing was working really well. He said it was working so well that he was terrified that the big guys were going notice and then to knock him off. This was when he was doing about $15,000,000 a year in revenue. It’s now over $1.3 Billion a year. So, what he did is he started looking for an investor, a partner who would inject capital in the company, so he would have enough capital to ramp it up and roll it out quickly. This meant that the big guys wouldn’t be able to blow him out of the water once they figured out what was
working.

Direct Response Marketing Doesn’t Work

In the process of trying to do that, he talked with many people in existing big companies and they all said the same thing: “Oh, we’ve tried advertising and it doesn’t work. We’ve tried direct response marketing and that doesn’t work. We’ve tried it all and it doesn’t work.” It was a wake-up call that, strangely, he didn’t have to worry about being “knocked off” or need to look outside investment to scale before being copied.

Oh, But Direct Response DOES Work

Well, you can trust me when I say, direct response marketing works great. The fact is, companies
who “tried and failed” weren’t working it properly, likely weren’t tracking it well, and in all
likelihood failed to create effective offers. It was a case of a whole bunch of people who didn’t
know what they were doing. Ogilvy, who was really the first real advertising agency on Madison
Avenue who understood direct response, would say the direct mail guys are the only ones who
really know what’s going on because they track their numbers.

I can tell you, if you don’t already know. When working with advisors with any of the many
HUGE companies, they’re all having to “hunt what they eat.” Most typically, even the largest
companies have training programs that really are no better than that depicted in the movie
staring Ben Affleck and Vin Diesel “The Boiler Room” (which was the first movie based upon
Stratton Oakmont.).

Be Your Competitor’s Prospect

A sad article that I read about Merrill Lynch talked about them banning cold calling and shifting
to cold contacts made on LinkedIn. Well, more on this later but there certainly are better ways
to generate qualified prospects that 100 or 1,000 cold contacts with manual labor.
A great tip to find out what works well and what other people are doing is to ‘play prospect’.
What this means, is essentially pretend you are a prospect looking into certain businesses. Sign
up for their offers, let them have your emails, let them send you stuff in the mail like free books
and free information packets.

Not only will you get some free goodies from this, but you will also get free insight into how
they run their marketing. An otherwise fairly successful advisors recently tried to tell me that no
one uses direct mail advertising anymore. That is a load of rubbish. One, I can tell you as being
in their target audience that I get a lot of mail from Wealth Management Companies and often
get the same or similar solicitations from the same company over and over. I have a box full of
mail that I’ve received including some very good pieces from Fisher.
Don’t believe me? Let me point out
there’s a company called “who’s mailing what” that will let you search by industry to see what’s
being mailed now.