6 Secrets to Effective Direct Response Advertising

“We sell or else.”

The insightful words of advertising icon David Ogilvy get to the heart of the real purpose of Direct Response advertising. In his short film to direct response advertising directors he breaks down the differences between branding or general advertising and direct response advertising. He said these two worlds are on a collision course. The world of general advertising is about awards and cute or poetic headlines. The world of direct response advertising is to sell. And we who are in charge of these type of campaigns know what works. In fact as Mr. Ogilvy so appropriately states it, “You know to the dollar.”

  • So what does work?
  • What does sell?
  • What makes the phone ring?
  • What makes your web-site get more visitors and buyers than ever before?
  • What makes Television advertising, radio advertising, mobile and web-advertising perform and deliver a positive ROI.
  • Can your ad campaign actually be a revenue generator and not just an expense?Absolutely.

6 insiders secrets to help your campaign deliver like never before


Secret number one:

Advertising TargetKnow Your Target

Before you spend a penny on advertising you need to know your ROI formula.

  • When do you make money?
  • When does the campaign become profitable?
  • How many calls or clicks does it take to generate a sale?

If you don’t know what you are aiming for you will hit it every time. So develop a metric or standard for success and make sure every campaign, every media buy, every schedule aims for that goal.

If you are not quite sure here is how to build it here is how.

  • A.) How many responses does it take to generate a sale? This is your conversion ratio.
  • B.) How much profit do you earn per sale?
  • C.) What can you afford to invest per response to generate that sale?

Answer these questions. For example. One of our clients had a financial service that costs the customer $500 upfront. Then $35 per month for 12 months. So the total of each sale generated was $920. Their actual cost on that service was $200. So they had a profit of $720 per sale generated. They had a 10% conversion ratio. For every ten people that responded to their advertising they sold one. So basically they broke even at $72 per response. They doubled their money every time we achieved a cost per response of $35 each. So the goal on every campaign we did whether it’s national or local television, cable TV, local radio or network was to deliver a $35 cost per lead. We knew we could afford to refine the media if it came in a little higher because we knew where the client made money, when they broke even and when they lost. We knew their target. Develop your target. Be conservative. Figure worst case scenario or lowest average conversion ratio. Then build your target metric from there.

Secret number two:

Know Your Audience

Crowed Audience

Who is buying your product or service now? Identify them by age, sex, income and shopping habits. If you would like some good insight check out Neilsen’s Prizm data. This will make you think more in depth about who are your best customers. What they are like and where you can find them.  Once you know who they are and where to find them you will generate a much better return on investment. It will help you limit your waste and hit your target faster.

Secret number three:

Develop creative that generates a response

Your entire campaign will be dead on arrival if your creative does not do it’s job in generating enough response to achieve your target metrics. Direct Response creative is not sexy, poetic or award winning but it will make the cash register ring. There is a formula that works. It’s the framework to build your advertising creative on.

Young Woman making a call me sign

  • Identify the problem or pain source: Are you overweight? Is snoring making your life miserable? Do you feel run down?

Present the solution: X product or service can help you stop snoring naturally in one week?

Give the benefits: You will feel more energetic, rested and ready to take on the day.


Create a sense of urgency: For a limited time you can try Snoring X risk free for 10 days. Create a desire for the customer to respond now. Not later.

Deliver a call to action: Call 800-900-4567 now for your risk free trial. Or visit snorenomore.com. For radio spots make sure the toll free number is given at least three times and have the phone number be the last thing they hear. On your television spots have the number and call to action up the entire length of the spot.

Build credibility with testimonials and risk lowering strategies. People don’t trust like they used to. So give them real life examples of customers who have tried the product or service and loved it. Also lower their risk for trying it by offering money back guarantee, risk free trials and free information on how to get the best results.

Secret number four:

Match Your Advertising to Your Market and Sales Systemcustomermatching

When you are deciding on your media mix you need to consider how your customers typically purchase your product or service, when they purchase and your own internal sales system. That will determine the best place to test. For example if you only have sales people responding to customers during business hours then radio and daytime television will be the first place to test. If you have a web-site that captures sales 24/7 then you have more flexibility and take better advantage of media opportunities on the weekend and during primetime television times. An excellent source for understanding what has worked for other Direct Response advertisers is this report.

Secret number five:

Don’t Pay To Much for Your Advertising Space


National cable, local cable, Television programs, radio and print are all a commodity. Rates are negotiable. It will save you time and money to get a reputable direct response ad agency and media buyer on your side to negotiate for you. They will have access to rates and deals that a first time or outsider may not be able to achieve. If you do want to source rates for cable here is a good place to start.


Secret Number Six:

Test, Measure and Plunge

tapemeasureYou cannot manage what you cannot measure. So when you have everything ready make sure you can measure the results during your testing. Google analytics is great of course for seeing what is coming to your site. If you need good call tracking we suggest www.dial800.com. Once you have tested what works then plunge. Invest more into the outlets that are working and cancel the outlets that are not. You can build out your campaign based on success.

Mark Twain said “Many a small thing has been made large by the right type of advertising.”

I hope these secrets help you grow as big as your dream to be.

If you would like a no obligation consultation on your next direct response campaign give us a call at 940-323-1110 option 1.

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