Bob Bly Copywriter/Internet Marketing Strategist test

Developing a “Direct Response” Mindset
By Robert W. Bly


The more you embrace a “direct response mindset” in both offline and online marketing channels, the greater your response, ROI, sales, and profits will be.

In multiple tests, promotions which were primary focused direct response out-pulled promotions for the same product featured branding messages.

Having been a direct response copywriter for close to 4 decades, the direct response mindset is ingrained in me.

A simple definition of the direct response mindset means, if you are a direct marketer, you religiously follow the 10 fundamental principles of direct marketing in everything you do, because your only concern is response – nothing else.

10 principles of the direct response mindset

1--Write in a direct response style.
Direct response copy is identified by several factors. For instance, it’s usually significant longer than branding copy. It relies on proven principles of persuasion rather than “creativity.” Instead of emphasizing pretty design and clever copy, it depends on salient sales arguments backed by extensive proof and facts.

2--Put response first.
The primary objective is not to enhance image, build a brand, increase awareness, or entertain. It is to get more inquiries, leads, orders, and sales.

3--Do not allow branding guidelines to interfere with direct response performance.
In large corporations, a primary focus is in maintaining branding guidelines both in copy and graphic design, with standards that must not be violated.

This may work with branding. But in direct response, using boilerplate copy or graphics from branding manuals that don’t fit the promotion can actually depress response.

4--Offer is prominent and emphasized.
The offer is not an afterthought. It is carefully thought out and worded, prominent in the promotion, and easy to find.

5--Free and guaranteed.
Direct response copywriters strive to work both free offers and guarantees into every promotion. Without these components, direct response rates are usually lower than they would be without them.

6--Prominent and multiple calls to action (CTAs).
Make your call to action, which is where the consumer can accept the offer, prominent so it catches the eye and is easy to find. Have the CTA appear in 2-3 places in the promotion, most importantly, one in the beginning and another at the end.

7--Target direct response buyers.
Direct response campaigns work best when targeting direct response buyers – people who have demonstrated that they will buy a product online or from a print ad, mailer, or catalog.

8--Have a back-end.
The money in direct response is made on the back-end – sales of additional products to customers who have bought a first product. Without a back-end in place, you are leaving money on the table.

9—Be a tightwad.
Direct marketers, unlike their Madison Avenue counterparts, are careful with a dollar and not to overspend.

Reason: If a campaign is too costly, it becomes increasing difficult to make money with it.

10--Test everything.
Brand advertisers roll out huge campaigns without meaningful, real-world testing, relying instead on less effective methods such as surveys and focus groups. Therefore they risk failing big and losing a lot of money.

Direct marketers start by testing small, but with live promotions where consumers vote with their credit cards, not their opinions. This gives a truer indicator of whether the offer will work, and if it doesn’t, your losses are minimal, because you test was modest and inexpensive.

About the author:
Bob Bly is a freelance direct response copywriter who has written for more than 100 clients including Thompson Cigar, Remedy Health, IBM, AT&T, and Agora.