The 4 Elements of Direct Response Small Business Advertising You Must Get Right

Saturday, November 17, 2012

There are a lot of businesses out there who are putting a lot of time, money and effort into their advertising and marketing efforts but ending up with nothing to show for it.

Is it that they have a substandard product or service? It's possible - no advertising campaign, no matter how effective can sell something no one wants. However, what is much more likely the case is that these businesses don't know how to create an effective direct response campaign.

What is direct response advertising?

To put it simply, a direct response ad is one which is designed to lead to a sale immediately; while there are other uses for direct response campaigns (such as lead generation), most direct response advertisements are meant to connect with their audience in such a way that they'll want to do business with the advertiser right away.

What does a good direct response ad look like?

Effective direct response advertisements can take on many forms; the common thread running through all good ads of this sort is that they make sales, plain and simple. That is the most important and actually, the only important function of a direct response campaign. If it's driving sales, then it's good, no matter what anyone else thinks.

If you read this and apply what you learn to your own small business advertising, you may be surprised by just how much potential your business actually has. Even if you're already doing well, you could dramatically increase sales (and of course, your profits) by using direct response ads which are well written, targeted towards the right audience and using the right media, you can create the strong emotional response needed to close the deal fast.

Once you understand how to create direct response advertising and use it to its best advantage, it can be one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal. If you're interested in building a customer base and growing your business into the successful venture you've always envisioned, then keep reading - you're about to learn how it's done.

An Introduction to Direct Response Marketing

Not all marketing efforts are intended to make a sale immediately. There are advertisements and other promotional strategies which are designed to build or enhance brand image, or raise and maintain consumer awareness of a given company product or service... But those are methods best used by big businesses...

The kind of advertising and marketing that works best for small business is the kind designed to get an immediate response and generate sales - and that's what we're going to be addressing here.

Direct response marketing may take many forms, from short-form advertising copy (such as print ads, contextual PPC advertising, radio spots, TV commercials and the like) to longer marketing messages like full page, text-heavy ads, advertorials and the Robert Collier-style sales letter.

All are valid, and which medium you use to get your message across depends on what you're selling and who you're trying to sell it to; that much you probably know, if you've spent more than ten minutes in marketing - but when you reach your audience with your message matters just as much as everything else.

The 4 Parts of Effective Advertising

In every ad, you need to accomplish each of the following 4 things:

The Right Message to the Right Market in the Right Media at the Right Time

All four of these factors are important to the success of any direct response marketing campaign - and we'll briefly cover all four below:

  • Message: It doesn't matter how great your product or service is if you can't effectively communicate its advantages over what the competition is offering - you won't get many, if any sales. You need to appeal to people on several levels, especially on an emotional level if you want to spur them to action immediately. We'll cover more about how to craft an attention getting message that closes the deal later.
  • Market: Again, it doesn't matter what your product or service is or how great it may be or even how compelling your message is if you're trying to sell to the wrong audience. In other words, don't try to sell sand in the desert. You should already know who your target market is before you begin trying to craft a direct response message to reach them - and if you don't, it's time to go back to the drawing board and start over with some in-depth market research. If you don't know who you're selling to, you'll never be able to put together an effective direct response message.
  • Media: The media you choose to convey your message to your target audience depends a great deal on the demographics of this group; and again, this is where market research comes into play. Depending on who your target market is, different media channels will be more - or less - effective in reaching them. Some groups will be more receptive to direct mail, others to print advertising and still others to email marketing, banner ads and other online marketing strategies. Just as if you were preparing to give a speech, you have to know your audience in order to create a message and select a media which will allow you to make the greatest possible impact.
  • Moment: It's not just about reaching the right audience with the right message through the right media; you also have to make sure that your message reaches them at the right time. What's the right time, you ask? The answer is: when your target market is ready to buy, not when you're ready to sell to them. You're always ready to sell, at least if you're in the least bit suited for business - but you need to remember that not every person out there is ready to make a purchase, even if they're decidedly part of your target market.
There are a few ways of being there when your prospect is ready to buy. You can keep in touch with prospective and current customers via a series of email messages using autoresponder software. Or, if your target market is more likely to respond to offline methods, then you can make sure that your marketing message reaches them when they're ready to buy by running regular advertisements in the media channels which have the greatest market penetration in this demographic - or by using lead generation advertising.

And remember that you can send a series of snail mail letters almost as easily as you can send a series of emails.

Making sure that your message reaches the right people; people who are ready and willing to do business with you right now, involves a combination of all 4 factors; message, market, media and moment. All are important parts of a small business advertising direct response campaign that genuinely produces results and provides you with a good return on investment.