Julie Guest Direct Response Copywriter, Marketing Strategist, Best Selling Author

direct response

Does Your Copywriting Pass the Flea Test?

Bear the Rottie
Bear the Rottie

Copywriting Tips From The Couch - By Bear the Rottie - Chief Co-Squirrel Hunter and Head Copywriter at The Client Stampede. As the Chief Direct Response Copywriter at the Client Stampede, I devised this ingenious, quick direct response copywriting test (not half bad for a Rottie!)

Plug your copy through it and it will instantly boost the response rate.

Here’s my Flea Test.

A look at this ad for Frontline (A foul smelling treatment Tucker and I get subjected to every couple of months in the summer):

  • This dog’s got problems. Tons of them. And in this ad there’s no denying them. Oooh that makes me want to scratch just looking at this ad. Does your copywriting do the same (put the pain front and center?). It needs to. People move away from pain just as quickly as they move away from fleas (quicker even). Don’t let people forget the pain your business solves.
  • Is your copywriting making them itch? You gotta rub that pain in a bit! Hit the point home.
  • Now it’s time to show them the treatment. How does your product or service help to get rid of those nasty critters? Dangle the treatment in front of them.
  • Then use a direct response copywriting ninja trick. Now that they’re panting for what you’re offering, give 'em an offer they can’t refuse. Seriously. One so good they deserve to have fleas in their bed if they don’t act on it right away.

How To (And Why You Should) Use Toilet Paper In Your Direct Response Marketing

Many small businesses in America right now are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Not because they don’t have great products or services to sell (most do). But because they don’t have the slightest clue how to market themselves.

I hear from people all the time that “there’s no money” in their industry. I ask them just one simple question: “is there anyone in your industry making a LOT of money right now?" (The answer’s always yes).

So my reply is “Well, it's not your industry that’s the problem…  it's your marketing. And frankly that problem is going to follow you around no matter what industry you work in.”

Ouch.

Harsh but oh-so-true.

Ever hear that old saying “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door?”

Total garbage.

That statement was most likely made by a someone very well versed in marketing theory but with not a scrap of experience working in the trenches, never having owned a successful business in their life.

Here’s the REAL truth.

It's not the best product that wins. It’s the best marketing. And the best kind of marketing is direct response marketing.

The problem is that very, very few people know what real marketing is. I’m talking about marketing that actually works, not what should work. Real marketing based on proven “in the trenches” scientific testing, successfully used in the top 5% of small businesses in America right now.

It's time for you to get in on the action.

So I’m going to share with you two of my secret marketing strategies that are dead simple to implement and you can get started on today.

Direct Response Marketing Strategy #1 – Forget doing any more brand advertising. You've likely heard me beat this drum before but it bears repeating again. And again. Because it runs completely contradictory to what everyone else does (and tells you to do). It’s a giant waste of money, you don’t know if it's even working, it takes a MEGA multi-million dollar budget to make any kind of splash in a market, and it will grow your business at snail’s pace, (if it doesn’t bankrupt you first). Instead, embrace direct response marketing like the life raft it is on the titantic. Direct response marketing rocks. It is supremely powerful. It's changed my life and it will change yours.

And that brings me squarely to tactic numero dos...

Direct Response Marketing Strategy #2 – Start learning how to do REAL marketing to your prospects (REAL stands for Rewarding, Easy, Authentic and Loved). This is the kind of marketing that people actually look forward to receiving. Tell me, when was the last time a direct mail piece of yours was eagerly ripped open?

BUT. This means you have to have the backbone to swim against the current. It means doing things that other people might think is crazy, out of the box, even outrageous. Not long ago I created a multi media marketing sequence for a law firm that included a toy car, a roll of toilet paper and a video of a Scottish guy singing while wearing a wooly hat and a pair of boxer shorts.

One of the partners outright refused to send it.

Fortunately the other partner had a lot more sense and sent it anyway.

And....

The campaign is pulling like gangbusters.

It’s their single most successful ad campaign they’ve ever run. It’s got people talking, laughing, and most importantly calling to make appointments.

(Side note: When was the last time you ever heard the words "laughter" and "law firm marketing" in the same sentence?)

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to get REAL with your marketing.

Your business depends on it.

PS The original unhappy partner of the law firm is now one of my biggest fans. I've even got him reading David Ogilvy and Dan Kennedy and learning all about direct response marketing.

16 examples of irresistible offers to light your prospects pants on fire

The strength of a great sales letter really boils down to how irresistible your offer is.  Matching the right offer with your target market is often the one little hinge that can open BIG doors.  In my Client Stampede Ultimate Marketing Home Study Tool Kit I provide my exact magic formulas for how to craft an irresistible offer - here's 16  irresistible offers  out of my list of 47 in my Ultimate Marketing Toolkit you can easily "swipe and deploy" for use in your own business:

  1. Free information report, starter kit, demo, sample etc
  2. FREE with absolutely no strings attached
  3. Free trial converts to monthly billing or payment of product after X days – (Pay nothing now)
  4. Free Shipping
  5. Hold your check
  6. Time deadline
  7. Limited number of units available
  8. Bonus overload – stacked bonuses
  9. Early bird bonus tied to a specific response date
  10. Silly premium – mousepad, cartoon, t-shirt, coffee mug
  11. Mystery gift
  12. Basic/deluxe or good/better/best
  13. Accept payment on multiple credit cards
  14. Easy pay options (monthly payments)
  15. The more you buy the more you save – tiered discount based on amount purchased
  16. Different pricing based on customers promise of action (e.g. for testimonial or referral)

The 2 Secret Reasons Why We Buy

In this month’s Gold Nugget I want to take you back to a fundamental marketing principal – the two real reasons why any of us buy anything.  Understanding this is like unlocking the key to the vault. Once you understand the real reason why someone is buying your product or service, you can carefully tailor your words – your sales copy, your sales pitches, your in-person appointments – to resonate with your prospect at an even deeper level, quietly speaking to their “secret need.” Here are the only 2 reasons why we buy: 1) We buy a solution to our problem and/or 2) We buy to get transference of feeling.  I think the first reason is obvious, the second reason less so.  How many times have you rushed to buy something because without realizing it, the actual act of making the purchase, rather than the thing itself, is what makes you feel great?  I’m guilty as charged.  For example, one of my private clients www.NourishMD.com specializes in helping moms find safe, natural alternatives to kid’s health problems, they’re also strong advocates of the REAL food movement.  Just searching their website makes me feel like I’m a better mom, and when I reach for my credit card and buy their homeopathic flu remedy or a bottle of probiotics for River, subconsciously I’m already congratulating myself for being a “caring, health-conscious mother for my child.”  It’s not that I don’t want what I’m buying – of course I do – but the instant gratification I secretly want is the transference of feeling.  That feeling is addictive. How many times have you gone out and bought something that made you feel instantly better, instantly happier or self-assured only to quickly forget about it and “rediscover” it weeks or months later, by which time it feels like a bit of an anti-climax?

Ok, so now you’re armed with this “insider” knowledge about your prospects.  What are you going to do with it to help them and to help you?

What to do with your customers who’ve gone MIA

Guess the top 4 reasons customers don’t return to a business (hint: price isn’t one of them). #4 Bad service #3 Bad product #2 They found someone else

And #1 They FORGOT!

That’s right, the number 1 reason people don’t return to your business is because you just weren’t top of mind when it was time for them to purchase again.  Are you shocked that price doesn’t even feature in the top 4 reasons?  Most of us automatically think that if customers don’t return it must have been because we were too expensive, when actually it’s just because we didn’t do a great job with our marketing by reminding them that we’re here.  The great news is that it can be easily fixed!

Here are 2 key questions for you:

In your business how often do you want customers to buy from you again?

When do you consider a customer to be lost?

If you’re a real estate agent, you might want repeat business every 5 years.  If you own a grocery store it might be once every 7 days.  Figure this out and then set up a lost customer sequence to trigger as soon as they don’t return. The most effective is a 3-step sequential direct mail campaign that’s highly personalized. A very distant second is the same via email campaign (but anything is better than nothing).

Here’s the secret to getting them back: unless you specifically invite your lost customers to return to you, most won’t because they’re too embarrassed!  You need to warmly invite them back.  Remember that a customer who’s already done business with you is at least 5 times easier for you to sell to than a new customer.  So make every customer count! Woo the lost sheep back with an irresistible offer and a deadline. Make them feel they’ve been greatly missed and welcome them back to the fold with open arms! If they don’t respond to the first campaign, schedule another in 3 months with a different offer!

Your DIRECT RESPONSE “MUST HAVE” Laundry Checklist For ALL Your Marketing

In the last post I discussed the vital importance of scrapping traditional/brand based advertising for your business.  Instead, I talked about the importance of shifting all your marketing and advertising to direct response marketing. What’s direct response marketing again?

In its simplest form, direct response marketing is advertising that ALWAYS contains a special offer with a deadline.  It’s advertising that has the objective of motivating prospects to take action immediately.  Direct response marketing directly sells a product or service by containing an irresistible offer – it doesn’t just talk about what you sell with no reason to take action now.

Using direct response marketing, you can tell within a day or a week of running an ad exactly how effective it was. You can tweak successful ads to try and make them more successful, and scrap the dud ads that aren’t pulling a response. No more guesswork. This way, every one of your marketing dollars can be ruthlessly tracked and held accountable.

For examples of direct response marketing think of home shopping channels like QVC, or catalog marketers like J Peterman, and Cabela’s.  It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in – whether you offer legal services or sell tires for a living – direct response marketing WILL work for your business.  In fact it’s the missing ingredient required for a major marketing break through.

As promised in the last post, here are the essential ingredients you must include in your marketing to ensure it’s a direct response advert, not a brand/traditional advert:

An irresistible offer or offers

  1. A deadline for response
  2. Clear instructions on what they need to do to respond (e.g. To place your order call our customer service department at xxx-xxx-xxxx or fax your order to...etc.)
  3. A bold guarantee that reverses the risk for your prospects
  4. Strong sales copy that talks about benefits, not features (e.g. Feature: This drill has 21 different speeds.  Benefit: You can get your work done in half the time)
  5. Testimonials from customers that overcome your prospect’s main objections
  6. Follow up.  Don’t just mail one piece or send out one letter – use ideally a three-step follow up process

I go into more detail about each of these steps in the Client Stampede Ultimate Home Study Kit and show you exactly how to apply these to your business, including done-for-you templates that you can “swipe and deploy” to use in your own business.

The information contained in this blog post is pure gold!  Many, many fortunes have been made based on applying just these 7 principals! These principals will work for you too!

Print out this blog post and pin it to the wall so you can refer to this information often!

Why Doing Brand Advertising/Traditional Advertising is Certain Death for Small Business Owners

One of the biggest mistakes a small business can make in their marketing is to copy the way big businesses advertise. I remember when I started my first business at 17 – the part I was most excited about was coming up with the logo, the tagline and the “brand” of my business, thinking that was what was going to get me sales.

I figured that if I built enough brand awareness in my market then people would be persuaded to purchase my products when they were ready to buy.   After all, that’s how Nike, Coca Cola, Farmers Insurance, and Wal-Mart advertised…

There was just one small problem with my grand plan.  The difference between these big guys and my small business was…a couple of (hundred) million dollars in advertising budget!

In my experience, copying big business brand advertising is the #1 reason so many small businesses end up going belly up.  Not only do small businesses not have the marketing budget to build brand, but the marketing agenda of a small business owner is far different than that of a big business owner.

Here’s the marketing & advertising agenda that most big businesses follow:

  1. Appease the Board of Directors
  2. Look good to Wall Street
  3. Look good in the media
  4. Build brand
  5. Intimidate the competition
  6. Win some advertising awards
  7. Sell something

As a small business, your marketing and advertising agenda is much more simple:

  1. Sell something.  NOW.

The whole point of spending money on marketing is to make money.  Ideally for every dollar you spend on your marketing you want at least two dollars back.

If you do brand advertising you have no way to measure if your advertising is effective.  You hope it’s effective, you pray it’ll bring you sales, but ultimately, it’s a wild stab in the dark because you really don’t know which advertising is really bringing in customers.

Using guesswork for your marketing is no way to run a business.

You need to scrap brand advertising (I also call it traditional advertising) for good.  Instead you need to get your business on a strict diet of direct response advertising.  

Building brand should be a nice by-product of making sales – it should never be the objective of your marketing.  Making sales is.

What is direct response advertising?

In its simplest form, direct response advertising is advertising that ALWAYS contains a special offer with a deadline.  It’s advertising that has the objective of motivating prospects to take action immediately so you can tell within a day or a week of running an ad exactly how effective it was.  You can then tweak successful ads to try and make them more successful and scrap the dud ads that aren’t pulling a response. No more guesswork.

The best book I’ve found on direct response advertising is: No BS Direct Marketing by Dan Kennedy.  I highly recommend you grab a copy and immerse yourself in it.  It’s an easy and entertaining read and will be worth many, many thousands of dollars to your business.

So how can you shift from traditional, brand based advertising to direct response advertising?  

At the very minimum, include an irresistible offer to your prospects, impose a deadline for them to respond, and tell them clearly how to respond (e.g. To order your copy just call us at xxx-xxx-xxxx).  Make sure NO advertising leaves your office without containing these three essential ingredients.

In the next post I’ll be giving you a laundry “checklist” of the other essential ingredients your direct response marketing must contain for maximum effectiveness. But by adding an irresistible offer, a deadline, and clear instructions on how to respond to all of your marketing – you’ll be off to a great start!

Beware Image Over Substance

One of the biggest misconceptions in marketing is that "pretty sells".  All those glossy brochures, slick looking websites with amazing flash graphics and fancy do-hicky things.  All very impressive looking but the bottom line is that if they don't actually do their job of delivering a compelling direct response message that'll get your prospects to take action and buy something - then they're a monumental waste of your money. How many glossy brochures have you seen that look drop dead gorgeous but contain no compelling offer, or reason for anyone to pick up the phone and call?  This kind of pretty but wimpy advertising is exactly what you should be eliminating in your business altogether.  Also known as "brand advertising" it's the #1 biggest waste of your marketing dollars and it's the #1 offender for small businesses getting dismal or zero responses from their advertising.

Instead, think of your marketing tools as being "salesmanship in media" rather than advertising.

Always, always always copy is king.  Yes the wrong presentation for a particular market can sabotage even the best message, but the more common mistake is a beautiful presentation of nothing.