Direct Response Marketing: How To Thrive With Simple Fundamentals Whether Your Adspend is $0 – $10,000/day or more

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There's two types of marketers out there; the amateurs that mess around with little budgets and fiddle with all kinds of little settings and often tread water, and then the big dogs that come out swinging with high budgets and seemingly little regard for 'details' and 'settings'.

If you look around in Facebook groups or follow little strategies on Youtube you'll see people talking about adsets with $20/day budgets, and duplicating them when they stop working, or running ads to get 'social proof'... the big dogs don't do this stuff.  

Take a look at this meme that I recently ran across in Facebook.

While it may seem like the 'big dogs' are careless and unthought out, they certainly don't get to the level of spending high budgets without a track record for success.  

So what can we learn from the direct response marketers that spend high budgets?.... I'm talking the marketers that spend $10,000+ on direct response marketing.  

👉 Ultimately it all comes down to simple fundamentals.

My experience: I personally spend over $10,000/day and have for a couple years on Facebook Ads and Google Ads.

Let's start from the beginning and all get on the same page.

What is direct response marketing? 

The term 'marketing' is rather broad and includes all kinds of activities related to the promotion of a business.

Direct response marketing is a specific type of marketing; it uses principles of persuasion to compel people to take a single action now. It can be anything from low-commitment actions like opting into an email list or calling a number, to big ones like buying a product.

👉 The results of direct response marketing should be immediate and trackable.

Keep that last sentence in mind.  This is where most marketers get fuzzy.

If you cannot directly trace the results of the specific marketing activity, it is not direct response.

Let's consider radio advertising... is it direct response marketing?

It could be, if you include a phone number at the end and instruct listeners to 'call now'.

Direct Response Marketing vs Branding

Can't measure exactly what users do when they hit your landing page?  "We'll call that branding that got a few responses".  That's the attitude that many business owners adopt when it comes to marketing.  It's unfortunate because the two are different and should be distinguished.  That view of marketing costs can lead to very inefficient spending.

Where as direct response marketing is all about a response now, branding is marketing that is intended to make a connection or memory so the customer contacts you later.  When running branding creative the focus should be purely on that connection and memory and forgetting about a call to action.

Coke does a great job with this.  

Notice their ads never ask you to buy anything?  They purely focus on being memorable.  

You're not Coke though, so you still need to ask -- that's what direct response marketing is for.  If you want to sell you have to ask!

That's why it is important to understand the relationship between direct response marketing and branding.  

Here's the simplest way I've found to put it in words; direct response marketing is you asking your audience to take an action.  Branding lets the audience know who you are and warms them up.

👉 The relationship: let's just say you're running a direct response marketing campaign to your audience and getting decent results.  If you begin a branding campaign to that audience as well, your results from direct response marketing will typically improve.

Starting from the beginning your audience will see your branding campaigns, become familiar with who you are, and maybe even create a connection.  But at that time, they aren't too interested in your services.  Maybe they'll plan to do business with you later, but they soon forget about you...

Then they see a direct response ad, and BOOM, you're right there, they know who you are and they take action.

In this video I explain in more detail with illustration how the two work together.

What comes first direct response marketing or branding?

Based on my example above you might think you should start branding first so that when the time comes to start direct response, you get better results.

This is wrong.

In any venture I find it best to start with direct response marketing so you can judge the market demand and effectiveness of your offer BEFORE proceeding further.  

If your direct response marketing works, branding will improvement.  BUT on the flip side, just because you have done some 'branding' there is no guarantee that audience even wants what you are selling.

Focus on the primary factors that determine campaign performance.

Direct response marketing is fundamentally very simply.  Yes, there is copy writing, design, knowing how to use the advertising platform, but at the core your success depends on these...

Audience & Offer

That's it.  

Let's imagine you sell water bottles and you are able to reach an audience of people that are dehydrated in the desert .  This audience is literally thirsty 🤣.

All you would have to do is run an ad that says "water available now" with a checkout function.  Your landing page wouldn't matter, nor would your copy, or your funnel, or anything else.  

The audience wants and needs the offer.

It's a radical example but you've probably seen people do just this at outdoor concerts.

Direct response marketing is exactly finding the right combination of audience & offer.  So simple -- yet so difficult.

💡 I see many marketers waste a bunch of time and money 'testing' slight variations of things when really what they need is major shift in audience and/or offer.

Have One Clear Conversion Event (offer)

What do you want some the customer to do?  Pick ONE.  Only one.

I see this problem come up often in the home service business (hvac, plumbing, etc), where the company will spend a significant sum to get the audience to their landing page to  'Get Quote' (the offer) and then on the page there are several 'calls to action'.

Look at this one...

Counting all of the options that appear in the right chat window there are 8 actions a user could take, and in addition to that several clickable elements which would take the user away from the page.

This is a recipe for failure.  If you have a user that has came from your ad to a landing page to 'Get Quote' why would you give them any other distractions?  Let them do what the they came to do! 

The argument is typically that "someone might want to call or someone might want to use the webform", to which my reply is always "which one is more valuable to your business?"

A live call is typically always more valuable.

So let's say you have a landing page with both a phone number and webform and that out of 100 leads, 50 would've used a web form and 50 would've called.  

Now we take away the web form, 25 more would call in and the other 25 would just leave.  Now you can focus on improving the factors that lead to a call.  

While I am using an 'online' example, the same principle would apply to a print ads -- ONE Clear conversion event.

Let Machine Learning Platforms Figure Things Out

In 2021 all of the online platforms let you choose to optimize for a specific conversion.  When set up properly, the conversion details and user information get sent back to the platform and then the platforms algorithm can go to work.

In time the platform will analyze the behaviors of people that have converted and 'learn' to identify who is likely to convert and when.  It's incredibly powerful.

Once in place and running, your targeting becomes less important as the advertising platform does the work of identifying who is likely to convert.  

Going More In Depth; The Best Free Resources

This post gives you a professional understanding of direct response marketing  fundable and hopefully a few ideas to improve.  Here are some of Youtube videos:

Frustrated by low quality leads that simply won't become paying customers?  In this video I show you how to combat and get more serious leads using the algorithm.

How do you go from ZERO to Scaling with Google Ads Smart Bidding Strategies?  I show you in this video.

A meme comparing 2 marketers makes for excellent lessons in marketing.  

Going Forward...

Focus on the fundamentals.  The more money I spend on direct response marketing, the simpler I make things and the more I find myself going back to the 'offer & audience'.

If I don't see some traction relatively quickly, I go straight to the audience / offer.  

If I have some traction my efforts go to improving the branding (also known as warming the funnel or improving the creative.  

About the Author

I have been in the 'online business' space since 2009 when I started an eCommerce business selling motorcycle parts (sold in 2012). Since then I have owned and operated several successful online business (and had a fair share of failures), along with owning offline home services businesses. Currently my focus is online businesses that are profitable with paid traffic. As a 'self employed individual' I do not use Linkedin, but you can connect with my on my personal instagram and youtube which largely revolve around my mountain biking passion!