Direct Response Marketing

By: Harmony Major

Can't get a date?

No, I mean to your website.

Day in and day out, I see marketers address "filet mignon" prospects like $10 streetwalkers.

How do they expect to get the sale (or the signup, or the download, or the ___) like THAT?

It's all about converting "ho-hum" browsers to excited, active BUYERS ... right?

Hmph. Not that way.

Come with me as I tear through one crude, street corner come-on, showing you how it relates to YOUR direct response website ... and how marketing like this can grind sales to a screeching halt.




I was walking downtown on business the other day, and out of nowhere I hear:


"Ay, can I talk to you?

"Come HERE.


Umm ... excuse him? I was "GOIN'" faster.

To get away from the fool.

You probably don't realize it, but the mechanics of this barbaric come-on are components YOU experience on direct response sites every day.

The sites that cause their visitors' only "direct response" to be to leave ... WITHOUT buying, or opting in.

Can't see it yet?

Let's break it down:


This is equivalent to an on-entry alert box pop-up telling me to input my name to "personalize my experience."

Or one demanding that I subscribe to some ezine I've never heard of, authored by a marketer I don't know from Adam, and harping on about some free bonuses that I either don't want, or already have.

"Ay, can I talk to you?"

This is an amateurish, garish sales letter with fonts sized way too big, too much going on in the opening, a massive header that never loads, a headline that doesn't tell me what the @%$^& I'm doing there, and too much use of colors that are WAY too bright!

The letter continues with a desperate spiel about how this is quite likely "the most important letter I'll ever read".

(Uhh ... right.)

"Come HERE."

This one's easy.

"Order TODAY!" "Get it by midnight tonight or you WON'T get it at ALL!" (At least until tomorrow rolls around -- right?)

In other words, "buy my useless crap NOW so I can get right to ignoring your refund request as you discover that my CRAP doesn't work!"

(Can we say "leave the money on the nightstand?" :-/)

"Where you GOIN'???!"

This is yet *another* pop-up window -- on exit, now -- designed to get me to come up off of my money or e-mail address.

Only this one is so the site owner can hound me relentlessly week after week, with thinly-veiled attempts to make me feel foolish or inferior for not buying on the first visit.

It's the last desperate reach for ANY form of "action" or desired result from the site.


You've Seen the "Crude" Way.

Now ... What's the BEST Way?


It's simple: COURT ME.

Most people don't go to a website LOOKING to buy something. In contrast, that becomes the result *if* you rub 'em the right way.


Most sites shouldn't use hard sales language, (like banter about "hot prices" or "amazing specials"), in their opener.

They're likely scaring prospects away with the very thought.

Unless your prospect is *specifically* coming to buy and you BOTH *know* that (i.e., you run an online catalog), they'll be like:

"Hot prices?!

"I didn't come here to buy, I came here to LEARN. What's up with that?!"

...And will leave you AND your "scaldingly temperatured prices" at the altar.

And for goodness sake, tell how the visitor will benefit BEFORE asking anything of them.

You'll get more results that way.

If you were walking down the street and someone shoved a drinking glass in your face, shouting:

"Buy this NOW! Hot sale! Here, here, HERE!! TODAY *ONLY*!!!"

...would you buy it?

Or would you eye them like they'd just sprouted a third ear in the middle of their forehead, and sprint away from "the lunatic" as fast as humanly possible?


I call calamities like this "The Push 'n' Shove Principle".

Make the buying decision *theirs* -- not *yours*.

Don't beat them over the head with "order TODAYs", or "only an idiot would pass up this offer!!!" insults. (Why would we buy from merchants who imply that we're idiots if we choose NOT to? Way to build a relationship with the reader, Moron!)


Instead, let prospects *convince themselves* by presenting such a flawless list of product benefits that they couldn't imagine NOT ordering.

And if your target market responds to it, you may want to tell a short story introducing a "painful" situation -- before introducing YOUR product as the "soothing" solution later in your copy.


Okay. So What's This Whole "Courting" Thing?


*I* even thought that an odd word to use as I was writing this. But I put it on down because, if you think about it, the similarities between:

COURTING vs. one-night stands, and


...are overwhelmingly obvious. Most sites spring directly into a sales pitch WITHOUT courting visitors a little.

There's the site that realizes it has to "stroke you" some before expecting to get anything out of you (a sale, an e-mail address, etc.).

Then there's the site that goes for the jugular immediately upon visiting, with those stupid alert pop-up boxes and discussions of price lists before you understand what they have to OFFER -- much less to order.

Take an honest look at YOUR sites now, and ask yourself:

Will my prospects view me as a high class mover and shaker who's truly interested in serving their needs ... FOR THE LONG HAUL?

Or will they view me as a dirty hooligan desperate to be thrown a bone, who'd pimp 'em like it was the 70's and my name was "The Mack"?

Yes, I'm sure "Art of War" tactics are effective for some. *I* just don't want to present myself that way ... because it's not the ONLY way.

If I have to strong-arm a prospect to get 'em to order a product they don't WANT or need, it's tantamount to robbery ... and I'm trying to keep my criminal record clean, thanks.

So, remember:

Don't push 'em.

Don't shove 'em.

RUB 'em.

THEN they'll do what you want ... and come back for more.

Copyright 2004 Harmony Major

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