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For this episode of Ecoffee with Experts, Matt hosted Ian Atchison, Founder and President of Insyntrix. Ian simplifies direct response marketing components and campaigns with interesting instances. Watch now to become a customer magnet and multiply revenue.
You are after an engine that self-perpetuates. That is what advertising and marketing are doing for you.
Yeah, thanks a lot, Matt. I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you and be your guest. I’m enjoying the opportunity here.
Yeah. So Direct Response Marketing, I think from a traditional local old school perspective, traditionally, a lot of marketing, the direct response was mailing somebody a letter and having them respond with a check. So this would be like, the Sears catalog or sign up now, or like those old school cassette tapes, and you get the little stamps and stuck them on what sets, and music you wanted, and they wrote your check, and you mail it back. And that was a direct response. That was genius, by the way, for good reasons. But I think the direct response has evolved, especially with the fast-paced digital world that we live in. And I would say anything that marketers want a response from would be considered a direct response from a global perspective. Now with a sales hat, that direct response is in the form of a sales or an opportunity. So that could be like, buy now, check out here, but could also be like, set up an appointment. Hey, we’ll come by your house for a free estimate on your roof or something like that. It’s a response to get a sale. Other things can generate a response that is not direct sales oriented. So, for instance, if I just want to gain some momentum with a campaign, maybe it’s a new, like, Avengers movie that’s going to be coming out or something like that, but it’s like two years out. And so I’m just trying to gather some interest and some buzz. And so maybe I can get them to jump to a website for a sneak preview, behind the scenes or something like that. So that’s just sort of general. But now, I’m tracking that I’m hopefully getting them to sign up for exclusive offers and merchandise ahead of time, so I’m planting seeds with that. So there are many different ways to initiate a response out of somebody. But the natural part is the key. I want one; I want you, Mr. Customer, to respond to me directly. So that’s what makes it a little bit more powerful. And because we’re tracking everything nowadays, with analytics and things, the natural part has a lot more weight than before.
Yeah, well, in my view, it’s a little bit more of a universal thing because I think it’s everything like it could be an E-commerce site to software as a service or anything where you’re selling anything, you want a direct response, right? You’re trying to knit a logical and emotional response to initiate an action out of someone’s brain. And so there’s a lot of ways to do this. But I think the big first one for me comes from my branding background, and what I like to do with clients a lot is to understand who your target audience is? Who is your ideal customer? And this gets overlooked a lot. But this is very big in the psychology of getting a response from somebody. If I know everything about my ideal customer, I can craft the right offer and message for the greatest possible outcome on the response. And so I want to know who they are, right? Are these the soccer moms? Or are they post COVID? Like they’re kind of hanging around, they’re antsy stuck in their house all day, kind of folks, well then my campaign offer might be more enticing because I’ve been trapped in a house for two years. So, like, what do they care about? And what are their major pain points going on with them right now? We have a shifting economy, with all the COVID stuff, but now the other economic uncertainty. So is there fear in their minds about spending money or doing this or that? And so, knowing this tweaks the messaging around what I offer, the imagery around it. If I know I’m worried that someone will spend a little extra money on something, then the value has to be there for them to risk it. If they have plenty of money, then it’s a little different story, right? And so, what is that real problem that my product or service is trying to solve for them? And if I nail that up front, everything becomes easier, right? So I think that’s probably the first one with any kind of direct response that is very important to nail. The other one understands how you’re getting your traffic, to have people look at your offer. So are these existing customers that you’re sending them an offer to? Well, somebody’s already heard of you, and therefore, that messaging and imagery, and everything else, may already be some level of trust. So that’s a different scenario than talking to somebody that we’ve never talked to before or have never heard of you. Also, how big is your company? So small business doesn’t have that brand weight. So anything that like, hey, check out XYZ Corporation. Well, yeah, I’ve never heard of you. So now I must work harder in my messaging or try to get something enticing for people to believe me, right? Like, should I open this piece of mail? Should I open this email? Should I click on this ad? Should I open, hey, that YouTube video was kind of funny, like, maybe this is worth my time, right? But if there’s no track record there, there’s nothing that’s going on. And it’s a little different approach. And that’s the other thing like, if I’m super busy, ultra running around, busy mom, I probably don’t have time to read this big letter in the mail that’s coming in. I don’t care how amazing it will get dinner on the table. It is; I just picked up my kids from soccer, so like me reading this three-page well-crafted letter in the mail or even an email or something might not work for me. So, therefore, that method of gathering that traffic or where that traffic is coming from is a key component, the delivery mechanism, I guess you could say. So we might know our customers, but how will we get them the message we want to craft? I think it is also a big factor in that campaign being successful. And then the other one is the actual offer itself. So, I think there are three components to any great offer for direct response. One is the hook. Alright, so the hook or what gets him to stop and pay attention, right, and so a lot of like perfume ads or cologne, right, you get the beautiful model, and they’re slinking across the dance floor or something like that. Well, that’s very eye-catching. So it’s stopping me and making me pay attention. But it can be a very expressive headline that’s just controversial, or it could be like a funny image that says many things in marketing. And I think most marketers understand that core hook element. But there has to be something that grabs them and can be great. A great headline could be an image; it’s even better if it’s an image and a headline; it’s all working very well together. And doesn’t have to be something small; I think it just has to be well thought through and crafted and hit the target exactly where we want them. That message, headline, and image need to hit that pain point we’ve identified for the target. And that’s what the hook is hooking. It’s the right kind of hook to grab them. And then, the story is the other component. So now that I’ve got them in, what story am I trying to tell them to gain trust? So I’m solving their problem in some way. So whether it’s an ad or it could be a landing page on a website. This can come in different forms. I may have different amounts of time to tell this story. But I need to be able to explain quickly how I am solving their problem. Okay, so maybe it’s a new purse, like, oh, my gosh, stop lugging around this big winter duffel bag. It’s summer, light and free and airy. And so this is hitting my pain points if I’m looking for a purse for the summer. If I have a woman in the market for a new purse. And so I’m solving a problem very quickly. And that can be with the product’s image; it can be just a couple of sentences or words. But the other one, I think that most, especially small businesses, don’t quite understand, is creating an irresistible offer. So if the offer is extremely good, you’ll close a lot more sales. So if I were just to invent some crazy thing for Mercedes, I said, Oh, yeah, you can get a C class for half, 50% off. If you take our 40-hour Mercedes Ambassador Club training and pay us $5,000 to become a Mercedes ambassador, we will give you a C-class Mercedes for $30,000. So maybe half, right? And so why would Mercedes do this? Maybe there are reasons, but we’re only giving this to 100 people. So the first 100 people that sign up for this. So now I’m creating buzz. I’m creating excitement; it’s a limited-time offer and exclusive. The value of getting a car for half is so outlandish. Of course, I’m going to pay attention. I’m going to read all the different parts that are happening here. What are you talking about? Is this real? Like, it’s almost too good to be true, right? So, of course, there may be some other front. Maybe that’s too high for Mercedes, right? But like, so if you’re a small business, and maybe you’re doing pool cleaning? Or maybe you’re doing roofing, or maybe you’re doing some new security software? The offer has to be good. And so the software industry has traditionally done this by a free trial, right, like a 30-day free trial, download the software now. So it’s like, well, the risk is so low, that well, I guess I should try this. What’s the downside? So my downside is very low. The upside is very high. And that’s what a Direct Response Marketing campaign should encapsulate. It’s got to have an offer that’s almost too good to be true. And that’s how you win new customers.
Yeah, especially with existing customer bases, right? So I would say, that’s the other thing, beat the bushes in your backyard if you’re looking for more sales, right? So your existing customer base, almost 80 or 90% of my small business clients, doesn’t keep a good record of their customers. It’s like, they start it, and they get it going. And, so especially if I’m in the trades, right? It’s like the AC repairman, or they’re out in the field, they’re running their business. And God bless them, they’re very good at what they do. But the last thing they want is to update their customers in a database at nine o’clock. And so they don’t have a list. So now I think with automated marketing, and when these leads are coming in from their website, that’s automatically filtering and going into a CRM. And now I can offer my customer base; I can send them an email and say, hey, you know, what, you should be getting your sprinklers winterized. You know, it’s that time of year. Here’s my calendar; set up an appointment now, or here’s the early bird special, just for my customers. And so now that is an exclusivity factor. And so that thing’s going to sell itself, right. It’s a no-brainer. And so he doesn’t have to advertise or hope and pray. Now, he’s probably got 50% signup, and Phillip’s rate just was his existing base. And so, I think that’s part of it, a direct response. You can offer new products to your customers and just test them out, so you can send them a quick survey; that’s a direct response, right? Of these three new services we’re considering offering, we’re not sure if we will do it, but of the three here, which would you be most interested in? Yeah. Well, I know my existing base of customers has already chosen me, and my brand prefers product or service number two. Well, okay, well, that’s what we should do. I don’t have to pay $10,000 for market research or open a focus group. I just asked my customers, and it’s done. So there are other ways for Direct Response Marketing to be marketing, right? That’s not necessarily a direct sale; it could still be very helpful information to create other sales.
Yeah, it’s a big change in how things are done. Because I think you’d slap up a form or sign up for a newsletter in the early days. And people were like, okay, great, but nobody wants to give away their email anymore, or they’re getting hit by spam all the time. So they have to either buy something and then you get their email. But if you’re not ready to buy, which maybe is, I’m looking to get a new pool or something like that. Lots of big investments. I don’t know if I’m convinced with your company so why would I give you my email? But yeah, like what you’re saying, if there were 20 things to consider before you ever talk to a pool guy and download our expose. So that sounds interesting. I’m in the market for a pool; why would I not want the 20 things I need to ask a pool guy before I even talk to him? That’s okay. Well, maybe that’s worth my email. So I put that email in, and I’m getting something of value back. Here again, irresistible offer, right? So I’m getting something of value that’s free but could save me 1000s of dollars on my new pool. Maybe some things are just too expensive and dumb that I don’t want for my pool. An evil salesperson wouldn’t talk to me. So that’s what I mean, like, the higher the ticket item’s value. So this could be a software as a service contract, like a Salesforce where it’s 1000s of dollars for different licenses for a team of people. And so this is 10s of 1000s of dollars a year, right? So now, these decisions start carrying a lot more weight. So, I think understanding am I selling things on volume, or are these high-ticket items that I’m trying to sell? And so, the tactics do change based on those ideas. So anything that takes a little bit longer to decide on needs multiple contact points. And so that’s where a direct response is I might not be able to sign up for something. It’s college season right now, with a lot of people, school just got out, and so they’ve accepted their letters and things like that. Well, how do they how do the colleges get in to recruit that person? Yeah, that’s a whole game now by itself. But in the old days, you got sent a brochure, and maybe talk to the counselor and see the catalog, which was kind of it. I’m signing up to go to a school in a different state based on a brochure and a form. That’s going to change the rest of my life. And some people do it, like, these forms don’t work. They’ve been around for a long time; people were all right; they will sign up for whatever; you just need to entice them. The offer has to be there. This college is going to transform and change your life. You should come here, okay? Where do I sign, right? It’s not; it can be about anything. You know, the other thing I think that doesn’t get talked about a little bit, but it’s still in the category, would be those late-night TV ads that are a little less seen thanks to streaming and all that feed like the Ginsu knives and all that stuff, like that’s a perfect example of direct response. So I’m seeing something. I have all the information about the Ginsu knife and how it slices through cans and cuts a tomato in one swoop. Now, for the low price, just because I’m here watching this at 11 p.m., I can get two Ginsu knives for $20. And so that is an irresistible offer. I got everything I needed to know. I’d never even heard of the knife before watching this commercial. And now I can get it right now just by calling this number. So, not everything has to be overly complicated. I will say that sometimes the best thing is just quick and easy and painless. But it’s that pain point, I think, in addressing their problem, and that’s like, if you remember those Ginsu commercials, they’re getting anything right, like, Oh, my knife doesn’t cut. And so they’re demonstrating the problem. So you have to remind them, so depending on the method that you’re trying to advertise with, then you need to remind people that problem, I think, helps a lot.
Yeah, correct. So it’s all about then, obviously AB-testing your offer. So, maybe you got the free popcorn, the mug and one offer, and then the other ones, the DVD, and you see which one got better responses. And so that’s a nice way to do it. And sometimes it’s just about direct response, but like, mortgage interest rates going up now and earlier that they’re going to be, very interested in how to figure out how to do business because everything’s going to cost more for all their customers. About a month ago, my mortgage lending company sent us a free invite to see the new Minions movie coming out next month. And all we had to do was RSVP how many tickets we wanted. So they’re renting out the theater to their customers. And they’re paying for everybody’s movie tickets. It’s just kind of a general outreach.
Easy, right? Like, it’s costing him some money to rent out a theater, but the theaters aren’t very expensive to rent out at odd times. And so yeah, it’s probably costing him some money, but what are they making on that sales transaction for a mortgage? It’s in the 1000s and 10s of 1000s of dollars. And so, if they got or lifetime worth of referrals because they’re in, our family remembers them for years. What’s that worth? So I’ve planted a seed with a lot of weight and power, costing me compared to other marketing campaigns. So that’s a quick, easy example. And so I think that with your direct response, it just what the offer is, you know, free? Is it free movie tickets to see minions with your family? Well, that’s all it took to have you think of me anytime a mortgage conversation comes up, then that probably was well worth it. So I think the other thing is, what is the value of a lead to your business? Right?
It’s hard to weigh for some, and for other companies like a roofing company is a good example because they put a roof on your house. They don’t hear from you again and maybe get some referrals, but they’re traditionally very bad at keeping in touch with customers, and they’re on to the next project. And so it’s hard for them to measure the lifetime value of a customer; it’s the cost of the run, one and done. So other kinds of customers will be more about that lifetime value. So we have another customer that does e-commerce, and they’re in Texas, so they have customers year-round buying products from them. So to acquire a customer that will buy products and make referrals for you, monthly or quarterly, has a lot of value, right? So you can break even on your initial ticket if they’ll probably come back again and again and refer others. So knowing that information allows you to change your tactics on your offer. If you don’t think you can afford it, your offer can’t be you can’t give away too much. But I would say like those and the consulting trades, or where it’s an individual, usually what you have in your own time, so your offer could be a 60-minute consultation about this or that other problem. And so there could be other things you can give away that aren’t necessarily elite monetary.
Yeah. It’s not always about coasters and movies and giveaways. It depends on the industry.
That’s not bad. I will get twenty-five dollars in my pocket just for opening the door. In the worst-case scenario, I made twenty-five dollars from filling this form out or calling. That’s not bad; again, different offers to different target groups will be more successful. So if these older adults, like 60 plus, come from more traditional values. They might see that, like, this sounds kind of fishy, they are not very trusting. They will be like, this is too crazy to be true. So you must be careful and understand who you want to target. Or you need to change your language so that it will feel more trusting to them. If you had a celebrity spokesperson making your offer, maybe they would feel a bit more trusting, or they could believe you now. And now your offer will have more weight because they trust you. I think it’s the target audience and profiling who they are and their pain points. Then the method of delivery, is it a commercial, is it a youtube, is it email, is a landing page, Is it a letter, or is it a combination? There is nothing wrong with that either.
We can do the steps that way, and then that hook and story is an irresistible offer and a way to convert.
Yes. It depends if it is something that’s amazingly new, or we’ll just say off the chart. I just saw the new concept for Delorean Red. They are remaking it, and it looks very awesome, and I’m like, how much is that? Because now I am curious. As for certain things, I am very interested because this is a very high-level effect for me. And so this product may entice me, but I can’t buy one because they are not in production yet. And that works too, but it will take a long time, or it’s a multi-step sales process. Do I qualify? Does my house have a solar panel on it? Does it face the right direction in the sun? Certain things may not allow me to make that sale and must be figured out first.
Products that solve a pain problem the fastest are usually the most effective. So like you see in the commercials during Super Bowl about pizza, like, Hey, get your pizza now. We are like yeah, we were going to have pizza, but should I get Dominos or Pizza Hut? So it’s very timely, It’s solving my problem immediately, so I don’t have to make a big decision. I get my pizza in ten minutes if it’s a low price point. So anything that has that equation where this is solving my problem quickly and economically is going to win. So that could be anything; it could be like my yard is a mess. It could be I need new windows; I want to tint my car, it doesn’t matter what my problem is. It’s a long way of saying; I don’t think there is anything bad or more difficult with a direct response, it just has to be well crafted, and you have to hit the right things. If I own a bicycle or don’t own a car, sending me an ad for car tinting will be useless. It doesn’t matter how amazing the offer is; if I own a bike and not a car, that’s a do-me-in. So you will have a zero conversion rate to that list of bike owners. That would be very hard.
I have to say, I haven’t thought about it in that context with the Direct Response. Could you, though? I think you can make a case; I think Marketers in the same space, I think we can make a case for that. I think seriously about advertising to most people, but it would be true that I am searching for something that I have a problem with while someone searches for anything. I am trying to solve the problem. It could be like when the Yankees won the last world series? Something like that. I am looking something up, and it is relevant. If it is something that has a commerce value to it, then I am trying to solve a certain problem. Who can solve my problem the fastest and most economical holds the highest value. So that is where the irresistible offer currently has a direct response. As you said, if your landing page is any good, you will be more successful with that ad. I would say that you can bend unless you have an unlimited budget, depending on where your search phrase is. Your ads will shift in and out of that search result. And so your headlines can matter, and stuff may run out at times with how Google is changing their ad system with the headline being randomized. That’s where I think it is more important to have this kind of conversation because no matter how someone gets there, what is that offer? What are you offering them to get you a sale or put them on the next step toward a sale?
I think that is one of the things we were talking about a little bit earlier, the days of the website kind of having the traditional approach is evolving. So imagine me being able to create three different ads targeting three slightly different personas that are my customers. So maybe one ad is a little bit more soccer mom, another one is more soccer dad, and the other is more after-school grandparents actively help. Now how do I write that ad differently? I can send them to three different landing pages with three slightly different offers based on that target. Also, as the business owner, my customers, I am still getting all these leads, and that’s what I’m after. But can my conversion rate be slanted and improved by opening up a bit to different possibilities as there are different kinds of customers that might be interested? Yes, I can do an AB test on all three. I can see which ones are doing better. I might figure out that soccer dads outperform moms by two to one. Okay. Then I can stop spending money on this ad, and this ad I can just put it on the warm burner. I can put all my dollars into the soccer dads. I don’t know why it’s winning, but it is. Now I have learned something that my competitors have not figured out. So that is a tremendous, huge advantage, especially in a small business marketplace. I can have insider knowledge through a little bit of experimentation and thinking things through. I can start printing my own money with that formula. That’s what you are after. You are after an engine that self-perpetuates. That is what advertising and marketing are doing for you.
I would say I think a lot of business owners get a little nervous, but I would say the ones that are, I don’t think you should be overly aggressive, but it’s like playing the lottery a little bit, you have to play to win. If you do nothing, then nothing will change; nothing will happen. That will happen. So if you are after nothing changing, then don’t do anything. But if you want something to change, are looking to grow, and need better ideas, then you have to do something. I would just encourage everybody to be brave, and you don’t have to go crazy and spend all this money at these agencies; I think you should spend money wisely. But if you do not do anything, then nothing is going to happen. I have seen many businesses get scared, and they just don’t do anything, and they dry up and die. It’s just unfortunate. So that would be my advice and tip, to do something. At least you are learning. We did that experiment, I saw it through, and I have learned something. It took a little money to learn that, but now I’m going to make much more money with that knowledge.
That’s what’s fun about what I do and this whole industry. A lot of times, we learn something in one industry, and we can apply it to another industry. The same kind of general tactics and just spin the idea a little bit differently. You learn a lot, and I think that’s even good too. A lot of times, when the owners or the executive teams are a little more proactive, they are like, Yes, I saw this cool idea or I heard about this, but they have no way to execute it or implement it. They need help with that. Fine, like say there is a higher chance of success if you have a very good idea of what you are looking for, help to see it through. It is a relationship with your Marketing firm. If something is more symbiotic or it’s a mutual relationship. Because if I can’t make you the money, you can’t pay me money to do what I do. I have to figure out ways to make you money, or else you will stop paying me. I think once business owners understand that, they are okay. Not to bang on anybody but Accountants or lawyers fees; you have to hound me for service when that’s done. And maybe they can keep you out of trouble, save you money out of court, and save you money from taxes, but it’s a little different. So Marketers are trying to think about how to make money.
is not like in a Dr. Evil way. I was talking about thinking about a problem to solve. Means to make money; maybe it’s increasing revenues by ten percent or launching a new product. For this product to exist, it has to be sold before you can make money. So how do we make that happen? It’s logical. It’s fun. I guess money is always a little emotional, but it’s more about, I think, the thing that is changing a little is the data at our fingertips. Everybody likes a very cool campaign and flashy like, Oh, that was amazing. Like the Super blades and things like that, but once they are done, you can forget about them, and it’s like, what have you done for me lately? I think these Direct Response types of tactics are where you’re able to repeat it time and time again consistently.
Right. It’s a big advantage for businesses. No comparison exists if you spent ten thousand dollars on something like a fancy Magazine ad versus ten thousand dollars on a Direct Response Campaign. I think a lot of business owners don’t see it that way. They are like; I need an ad; I need all this glitz, pomp, and circumstance. There are certain circumstances with brands and things where that does apply. But you can still use many tactics even with those types of brands.
I think the other thing I would like to encourage other Marketers and businesses to do would be thinking out of the box. I have a story from an old client who did education lead outsourcing via telecenters. So a college would hire them as their outsource lead department for student recruits. What we did was to get people to look at their letters and email. We got a crumpled-up lead, a piece of paper balled up, put it in a small tube, like a small plastic tube, and made a little insert and sucked it on top of the ball of paper, and we mailed the whole thing in a small, FedEx them all. Went out to like a hundred different colleges. So the Administrator or whoever is in charge of marketing over there will get this little box so that they will open it. So it’s like, you are throwing your leads away like you should be hiring us is the next step of the campaign, so here is your little ball of trash. So literally, we are mailing them trash. One hundred percent open rate. So the conversions, opportunities, and leads from that campaign were high. So it’s not always about, Oh yeah, we are going to get this to a million people or else, Sometimes you just need to have a bold, smart idea executed well, and that’s all you need.
You can go to our website. It’s Insyntrix.com , and you can contact us via one of our forms. Reach out to me at ianatchisontrix.com.Im happy to connect with anybody directly.
Yes, you can check out my LinkedIn profile Ian Atchinson. It should be easy to find. I am happy to connect with others.
Yes, Matt. I appreciate the invite. Thanks a lot, and appreciate it. Thanks for your time.
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