copywriting

Articles by Lynn SwayzeMarketing Funnels

Direct Response Marketing 101

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“What is Direct Response Marketing?”

Given that I run a business called, “Indiana Direct Response Marketing”, I figure that it’s high time we actually define what in the heck direct response marketing actually is.

I live and breathe direct response marketing. It works, it holds everyone accountable, and it actually recoups the investment when done right. Which is why I’m such a big believer in and advocate for direct response marketing strategies and tactics.

So the question is – what is direct response marketing?

Here’s a video by David Ogilvy which I love:




… On second thought, perhaps it’s best to start by explaining what direct response isn’t. Because like it or not, all marketing is not direct response marketing. That doesn’t mean that all marketing is bad, it simply means that not all marketing shares the same goals or success metrics.

What is Indirect Marketing?

Logically, the opposite of direct response marketing would be “indirect response marketing.” That’s marketing that doesn’t directly ask for the response or action of the consumer and which doesn’t have a way to track campaign metrics to sales results.

I’m talking things like….

  • Website redesign
  • Educational emails that don’t ask for action
  • Brochures and “brand” marketing
  • Advertisements with no specific call to action

Here, I am reminded of the time I once spoke with an SEO expert.

It was in 2017-ish and I lived in Bloomington, Indiana. The guy seemed bright and friendly, and obviously knew his stuff when it came to search engine optimization.

Buuuuuuut when I asked him about tying results to marketing spend, he froze like a deer in headlights. He seemed generally perplexed that anyone could tie marketing spend to revenues, much less that someone (e.g., me) would make an entire business out of it.

Let’s just say that the conversation kind of ended after that.

Unfortunately, there are many entrepreneurs who spend a lot of money to not see results out of their marketing investment. More than a few well-meaning business owners have been swindled out of thousands of dollars only to get a few hundred “likes” and a couple thousand “views”… when they could have used that money to create real, measurable, and accountable results.

Sometimes, indirect marketing is used to bolster the image of a company. For example, the Super Bowl Ads you see every year are a great example. Companies will spend millions upon millions of dollars to air a short commercial…

… and have no way to directly tie that exorbitant ad spend to increased revenues.

Another example is advertising which doesn’t immediately ask for action. Billboards with a generic URL or phone number is one common example of this lack of immediacy.

To recap, we can say that indirect marketing :

  • Is not easily tied to the sales cycle
  • Does not ask for a response immediately
  • Does not have a “Call to Action”
  • Is more concerned about overall image/reputation
  • Cannot be expected to have an ROI

Here are some types of marketing which aren’t direct response, at least not by themselves. (I’ll share in a moment how to tie direct response elements into almost all of these.)

Types of “Indirect Marketing”

Website Rebranding

Website rebranding is, for whatever reason, one of the first steps businesses make when they want to start marketing. I’m guessing it’s because most believe that a classier website will automatically translate to more sales.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization makes you more “findable” by search engine. This is important, because being found online is everything anymore. If you aren’t online, you don’t exist! Of course, you can get all the traffic you want and still not make the sale. Which is why most businesses try the following…

Content Marketing

Blogging and article writing is often the next thing businesses try. Content marketing uses blog posts to educate and “pre-sell” the prospect. Often, these articles are written around core “seed keywords” businesses want to rank for. Although again, you can have a lot of views and shares and still not grow your database of prospects or buyers.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is another avenue many small businesses take to try to get more sales. Unfortunately, social media marketing can be one of the biggest time wasters out there. That’s because most of the time, it’s not tied to a funnel of any kind.

Email Marketing

Finally, some businesses owners try email marketing. Email marketing is marketing which does most of the selling via email campaigns, either through regular broadcast emails or automated email campaigns. More often than not, small business owners use it as a platform to brag on themselves rather than as a means to sell.

Each of these are good actions to take, but none by themselves qualify as direct response marketing.

To make each of these “direct response marketing”, all you need to do is add a call to action at the end which you can track.

So a blog post would have a call to action to get into the funnel. (Perhaps with a worksheet or checklist of the blog post, for example, available as an opt-in to your email list)

The social media would have a CTA to a front-end offer… and if not, the blog post would have the CTA to the front-end offer. Your site should always have advertisements to take the next step, whether that be book a call, answer a quiz, download a lead magnet, or purchase a relevant tripwire. And for emails, the same thing applies in that you should always be selling the action you want the prospect to take.

As for the website rebrand, the best thing you can do is create a case study for the company which did your branding and then make them point that “success story” back to your site – of course using Google tagging so you can track by referral source. (Ka-ching! Free traffic you can track!)

See how that works?

And when you make everything you do work for you in this way, you can actually track the efficacy of all your marketing efforts. (More on that below.)

The Definition of Direct Response Marketing

In my mind, direct response marketing is the type of marketing which requires immediate action directly from the consumer. Whether that action come in the form of filling out a reply card, calling a specific number, requesting a lead magnet online, or signing up for a special package on the spot, there’s an action the marketing piece requires the consumer to take (or not!). And it’s that action, or lack thereof, which gets tracked.

Direct response marketing is often found in:

  • Email campaigns with a call to action at the end
  • Landing Pages with a front-end lead magnet
  • Marketing funnels with upsells and downsells
  • Direct mail sales letters with a special offer
  • Postcards with a call to action on them
  • LinkedIn messages with a proposed next step
  • Video sales letters (VSLs), webinars, and YouTube videos with a CTA
  • Space ads with a unique number to call

… And much, much more.

As you can see, direct response marketing is found in online platforms and offline platforms. It’s been used for over one hundred years to generate more sales and increased revenues for businesses of all sizes.

Direct response marketing is responsible for creating success for brands and products you may be familiar with, such as:

  • L.L. Bean
  • Proctor and Gamble
  • Harlequin Books
  • Duluth Trading Company
  • “Blue Blocker” Sunglasses

And because the response is immediate and measurable, it’s super attractive to most business owners who need a quick return on investment.

Direct Response Marketing Example

For example, let’s say that between the copywriter, the list rental, the postage, and the production that running a piece of direct mail to a list of 10,000 names cost you $25,000. But let’s say that of those 10,000, a good 100 respond and spend $597 on your offer. Congratulations! You have a 1% response rate and earned a whopping $59,700 for your $25,000 spend, netting you $34,700.

Now let’s say you follow up with those who didn’t spend by sending a series of 5 letters, each one selling the benefits, proof, guarantees, etc. By the end of that sequence (which you already paid for up-front), you’ll have earned another 75 buyers and $44,775 dollars.

Not bad, eh?

And when it’s time to run the campaign with a new list (which you’ll do, because you’re savvy like that), you have three options:

  1. Run the same campaign with a new list.
  2. Split the list in two, with half running the “control” campaign you just ran and half running a new campaign you want to test.
  3. Run a completely new campaign with a new list

Doing this sort of tracking and testing is the hallmark of direct response marketing and direct response advertising. It’s what direct response copywriters (like me) are trained to do!

As you can imagine, we “direct response copywriters” can apply this same testing methodology to all sorts of media:

  • Space ads in magazines or newspapers
  • Display advertising in websites
  • Facebook, Google PPC, LinkedIn, etc ads
  • Marketing Funnels (Clickfunnels, Leadpages, etc)
  • Webinars and VSLs
  • Email campaigns
  • And so many more…

Which is why a good direct response marketer can make you so much more than you ever pay out to them IF you hire the right one and are willing to test, test, and test some more.

How We Do It

There are a few ways direct response copywriters get people to respond to your marketing.

Attention-Grabbing Headlines

In order to grab the reader’s immediate attention, we use headlines that “jolt” and “jar” the reader out of their somnolence and into whatever it is we want them to see. And then we keep them glued until they either opt out of reading more, or end up buying. John Carlton calls it the “greased slide”, and it works well to increase your bottom line.

Laser-Targeted Focus

Direct response works because it’s laser focused. That is, we write copy for a specific avatar with a specific problem that can only be solved with a specific product – yours! It’s this laser targeting in avatar, language, and pain points that makes what we do so successful.

Benefit-Driven, Emotionally-Charged Copy

Another way direct response copywriters get the sale is by using benefit-driven, emotionally charged copy. We understand that people buy on emotion and justify with facts, which is why we use emotional language and reasoning in our marketing messages.

Short-Term Follow-Ups

Campaign success depends on short-term follow-ups requesting immediate action. It’s this measuring of “immediate action” that tells us whether the marketing campaign worked or not!

Long-term Follow-ups

We understand that not everyone is going to buy on the first go-round. Which is why a good direct response copywriter will help you plan a long-term campaign to nurture your prospect and buyer database. That way, you continue to be “top of mind” in the eyes of your prospects.

Want some help?

And if you’d like some help with creating accountable marketing campaigns, simply book a call with my team. We can talk one-on-one about your business and campaigns and see if we can inject a little direct response into it. If not, no worries – the call is free of charge.

Hopefully, this has given you a little bit better idea about what direct response marketing is all about. In Part 2 of the series I’ll share the benefits and drawbacks of direct response marketing.When you’re ready to see how direct response marketing can help you get more leads and increase your conversion rate, then feel free to book a no-cost discovery call with us today.

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Five Common Consultant Website Problems

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TL;DR: Over the course of this article I’m going to describe the most common website flaws for consultants. There are many (including some that yours truly engages in), but these are the most likely to harm your long-term profitability. These are: a lack of an about page, no email list, no lead magnet, blogging for the wrong audience, and no selling. Read on to get the full scoop.


Table of Contents:
I. Why do I need a website?
II. Common mistake 1: No About Page
III. Common Mistake 2: No Email List
IV. Common Mistake 3: No Lead Magnet
V. Common Mistake 4: Blogging for the wrong audience
VI. Common Mistake 5: Not Selling
VII. Conclusion & Resources


Why do I need a website?

What’s the purpose of a website for consultants?

  • Is it to help with Google search results?
  • Is it to generate leads?
  • Is it to sell your products/services?
  • Is it to showcase your expertise in your field via media (articles, video, audio)?
  • Is it to link to your social media?

If you answered all of the above, you’re right!
And if you struggle with your website, you’re not alone. And also, I want to tell you right now that it’s not your fault. Website creation is purposely made complicated by designers, web devs, and people who make their living selling websites. If they made it sound easy, they’d be out of a job. So if you have in your head that you need to spend $10,000 in order to put up a blog, then you can blame them.
Should you spend some money in quality graphics? Absolutely. Is it necessary when you as a consultant aren’t profitable yet? No. it’s not. Spend money on other things like ads, direct mail, etc., but not on your website. Not at first.
Think of your website as your marketing real estate. It’s the one corner on the internet that you own. It’ll be yours no matter what social media platform is popular or how big you get. It will grow in usefulness the longer it remains in effect. And all of the information on the site is under your control. The layout, the content, the pages, the design. All of it.
Over the course of this article I’m going to describe the most common website flaws for consultants. There are many (including some that yours truly engages in), but these are the most likely to harm your long-term profitability.

Common mistake 1: No About Page

The most common mistake that I see is a lack of an about page or an ineffective about page. Your about page is the one part of your site where you can really talk about yourself. You want to tell your story and through the narrative answer the following questions:
Who are you?
I mean the real you, not your “business persona” version of you. As a tech consultant, do you have a degree in networking, or did you come from a liberal arts background? As a copywriter – did you start off in a different field altogether? What makes you uniquely qualified to do your job?
What do you do/sell?
What do you sell? Do you sell products, like books and courses? Do you sell services, like monthly retainer consulting about something specific? Why do you sell what you do, and not something else?
How do you help your customers?
Here’s an example I came up with on the fly just now for this blog post based on the “60 Second Sales Hook”, a template created by  copywriting mentor Kevin Rogers:
“Hi, I’m Lynn Swayze. I’m an independent copywriter based out of Charleston, Illinois.
For years I watched businesses I worked for struggle to make sales and generate leads. It seemed like everyone had the same problem: they spent entirely too much in advertising, got too few results, and ended up with clients that weren’t a good fit for their services. I knew that their had to be a better way for B2B companies to sell more of their products and services.
In my searching I discovered direct response copywriting. It was the piece that companies were missing! After spending thousands in training from the industry’s top copywriters and internet marketers, reading dozens of books, and hundreds of hours spent reading and hand copying time-tested ads, I learned what worked and what didn’t for B2B companies. 
Now I spend my time helping others apply time-tested marketing and copywriting techniques in their business. I write landing pages and website content, develop marketing funnels, and create lead magnets for companies of all sizes.
If you’re interested to see how I can help you, opt in to my waiting list and then HIT REPLY to the email you’re sent. Or, send me an email at lynn (at) lynnswayze.com and let’s get started.”
See… it’s not so hard! The hard part is opening up in the first place. Note that my about page example as a call to action that isn’t some version of “contact me”. It offers a low-threshold way for people to get more information without directly contacting me.

Common Mistake 2: No Email List

Okay my tech consultants out there… this is probably your #1 problem. You hate spam and so instead of using email to foster conversations and build relationships with your prospects, you avoid it altogether. And you don’t sell. No one uses your “contact me” form. And there is no direct link between website visitors and sales because you didn’t build one.
Mantra: Your website = lead generation tool
Let me ask you really quick…. how many leads does your website generate? If you’re like many consultants, it’s well under 500 total. For one of my best clients, the answer was ZERO. So, let’s say that your website receives 200 views a month. How many of those views translate into prospects, let alone customers? You need to get this number to at least 3%, if not 10%. Ten would be awesome for most consultants. How do you do this? Well, you get a list.
Think of your email list as your future customer database. 
If you do it right, your email list is comprised of people who are your prospects. So, let’s say that you build a proper lead magnet (ebook, worksheet, white paper, etc) and it attracts your ideal client. Your ideal client wants the information and signs up. Now you have a list of individuals who have enough of a problem that they’re willing to exchange their email address for it. That’s a big deal!
Email doesn’t have to be spammy.
Now you can start to build a relationship with those clients. Show them your personality. Offer them value. And more importantly… you stay TOP OF MIND by emailing them at least weekly, if not daily. They won’t forget your name. When they think of a consultant who does what you do, who do you think they’ll think of? If they’re reading your emails every day, then they’ll think of you. They’ll forward your emails to friends. And they’ll refer you to others if they don’t hire you directly themselves. And when it is time to sell (a book you’ve launched, an opening on your waitlist, etc), it won’t come across as spammy because you’re now the friend who’s reaching out with something that’ll help them and not another cold emailing salesman.

FREE course -> “Charge What You’re Worth” by Brennan Dunn

I recommend Aweber  or Active Campaign for email management, but there are others that’ll do the job too, like Drip or ConvertKit or even Mailchimp. Note that you’ll need an @yourdomain.com email address instead of a public one like Google or Hotmail or Yahoo.

Common Mistake 3: No Lead Magnet

In order to get emails, you have to have a lead magnet. A good lead magnet can be used for PPC ads and for email signups on your page. A good lead magnet will provide value (just enough!) without giving away the whole farm. And it will help establish you as an authority in whatever it is you do/teach/sell.
TL;DR: You are offering something of value you have (information) in exchange for something of value they have (an email address/their information, their time). You are looking for those website visitors who raise their hand and are essentially saying, “Yes, I have this problem!” You are starting a conversation with potential prospects.

Common Mistake 4: Blogging for the wrong audience

Okay guys…. you know who you are. Those of you writing about the latest technical tool instead of about your customer’s needs. When you do the former, you are blogging to the wrong audience. So, let’s say that you lead magnet provides value to your ideal customer. Great. But if your blog posts (SEO magnets!) talk to your peers instead of to your prospects, do you think you’ll get opt-ins to your email list? No… no you won’t.
Talk to your prospects. Talk about how you’ve solved a client problem. Address a common question you get. But don’t talk about technical stuff no one but your peers care about. Save that content for where it matters – tech blogs and magazines where you can guest post. Your site should sell you.
Exception: if you want to sell books or training to your peers, then by all means blog about the technical, profession-related stuff. But in this case you’re still following the rule to blog to your customer, because your customer has changed. See where I’m going with this? 🙂

Here’s Jon Morrow’s secret for blogging success (from : https://smartblogger.com/stephen-king/):
“You want the formula for writing popular blog posts? Here it is: Jot down a list of blog topics you could write about. Circle the ones at least 80% of your readers would find irresistible. Write about those topics and nothing else.”

Common Mistake 5: Not Selling

This really goes back to mistake #1 and #2… many people hate selling. For some reason, it’s a big taboo to like selling. I don’t know why it is, but we all think of the sleazy car salesman when we talk about selling. It’s such a wrong mindset to have, though.
If your product or service actaully helps people, it is your OBLIGATION to sell them on it if they’re a good fit. (e.g., they can afford it and they’re ready for it). Why would you deny prospects the ability to grow their busines, improve their IT infrastructure, make more money, or whatever it is that your product does for them?
I think people get caught up in themselves and forget that they’re bringing value. They think, “No one would pay me $150 an hour to do this. I don’t know as much as [insert expert]!” Thing is, you know more than your prospects and clients and you will get them results. That’s what they’re paying for. Not for YOU, but for the RESULTS.
On your website, therefore, you have to sell. Make it easy for people to opt in to your list. If you sell a low-priced product (a book, for example), make it easy for them to buy it. Advertise it like you would someone else’s product. Talk about it at the end of your emails. Make sure that everyone who comes to your site is VERY CLEAR on what you do and how they can buy from you. Because people buy when they’re ready, not when you’re ready.

Conclusion

You’re probably making at least one of these website mistakes, and that’s okay! It’s never too late to fix a website that isn’t working. And if you get stuck, please reach out by commenting below. I love hearing from my readers.
Now go thee forth and make more money!
If you found this post helpful, you should get on my mailing list. And please… share this with someone who needs kick in their website booty.
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