I recently met with the VP of Marketing at a large trading technology company to discuss their online marketing strategy. I was fully expecting to discuss ideas for a direct response information marketing campaign, but I was met with immediate push back.

For the first time, I was hearing reasons for why a company did not want to use direct response marketing.

Here were the reasons:

  1. They already had a branding campaign set up and about to go live that would push their message on their prospects.
  2. They already have contact information for their prospects.  Due to the nature of their business, they can obtain lists with contact information for the less than 5,000 qualified prospects in the US.
  3. They didn’t see any of their competitors doing this type of advertising.

First, let’s go through each of these objections and then later I will explain some key benefits of direct response versus branding advertising.

We Already Have a Branding Campaign to Push Our Message

The first and #1 reason I heard for not wanting to launch a new marketing campaign was because they already had a branding campaign set up.  Why would they need anything else?

The campaign used sleek, professional images and a few lines of text to emphasize their new slogan.  There was no offer for more information, no reason to contact the company, and most importantly no “call to action” to prompt the prospect to do anything except continue what she was doing before the ad popped up.

There was also no way to measure the effectiveness of this type of ad campaign.  You can calculate the number of ad impressions (the number of times the ad was displayed), but ad impressions are not a measure of prospects interacting with your message/brand.

So in the end you will pay $X to deliver Y  ad impressions and have no idea how many people actually read your message.  Plus, you’ll have no contact information from the prospects who did read your message and would like to learn more.

How will you know if your campaign is generating ROI and if you should continue to invest in the advertising?

Well, the answer is you don’t know…

Contact Information vs. Permission to Contact

As I mentioned earlier, this branding campaign did not collect any prospect information.

The reasoning is simple and the logic appears to be sound – this company already knows who their prospects are and has lists with all of their contact info.  Why go through the hassle of requesting info you already have?

Well there is a BIG difference between having a prospect’s contact information and having permission to contact that prospect.  And there’s an even bigger difference in having the contact want you to contact her.

That’s the beauty of direct response information marketing.  When done correctly, your prospect wants you to contact her and send more information to make her life easier/better.  Your marketing message transforms from annoying and disruptive, to helpful and informative.

Following Your Competition

One of the most common questions we hear when talking to clients about new marketing campaigns is, “do you see any of our competitors doing this?”

And that’s exactly what I heard at this meeting.  Since no one else was using direct response marketing, then they thought it couldn’t work for them. It wasn’t an option unless someone else was doing it.

However, that assumes your competition is smarter than you and has already tested every possible way to acquire customers.  Both are probably not true.

To paraphrase Earl Nightingale, “If you had no successful examples to follow, you need only observe how big business advertises and do the opposite.”

The reason why that quote is true is because most businesses are looking around within their industry and copying each other.  Therefore, all of the marketing campaigns look similar and no one has any marketing breakthroughs.

The only way to truly know if a marketing campaign will work is to test it.

Benefits of Direct Response Information Marketing

So now let me give you some reasons for why I think it’s worth testing a direct response information marketing campaign even if none of your competitors are doing it :

  1. Direct response information marketing campaigns are measurable – You can see how many prospects click on your ad, complete a webform, or call a trackable phone number to request your information.  With this data you can calculate your ROI and make informed decisions about how to improve your campaigns.
  2. Positions you/your business as the expert or authority in the industry – Prospects will view the ads as helpful information and train them to go to you when they need advice.In other words, you are no longer an annoying salesman.  You are a trusted advisor.
  3. Gives you permission to nurture the relationship – When prospects request information, then you now have permission to contact and follow up with them.  As long as you provide valuable and helpful content, then your prospects will want to receive your emails, direct mail, and/or phone calls.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to convince the VP of Marketing in my meeting so they are going forward with their original branding campaign.

My hope is that I’ve now helped a few of my readers see the value of direct response  so you can take advantage of all the benefits listed above.

If you’re not sure how this type of marketing could work for your business, then post your questions as a comment below and I’ll be happy to help brainstorm some campaign ideas.