Direct Response Consulting – A view from an Oldtimer

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Direct Response Consulting

When I first broke into the direct mail printing business as a printing broker I worked with many paper dragons like Readers Digest, Dreyfus Service Corporation, The Danbury Mint, Consumers Union (Consumers Report) and American Express just to name a few. This was when direct mail better known as “junk mail” and direct mail was king back in the early 1980’s. This was back in the Chicago heyday where there had to be 2-3 dozen big strong direct mail printers who used web presses rug at 2,200 feet per minute on a fast sheeter. Most of these companies were billing from $15 Million to $75 Million per year each.

We literally printed train loads of paper and converted the paper into “junk mail.” The reason why it was called “junk mail” was because 98% of it was thrown out. Hello landfills! It only took 2% of the mailed pieces to convert into orders to make a business go into the black. The interesting thing today is we have very similar parallels with the internet. If we can get 2% of people to respond to our website with a phone call or an e-mail or a 2% click through on a banner advertisement we usually have something. However the difference is the other 98% is not called “junk.” In
online the other 98% just doesn’t work!

In order to make the 2% conversion number go higher in the old direct mail days we changed a “black plate” on the press which usually was something like a simple copy change or a pricing change. We had to stop the press from going 2,200 feet per minute and make the change. This cost money and time, however it saved a ton of money if we could optimize the right price with the right offer. Many times we would change 200 plus plates on a single creative package and get them into the mail and wait for the responses. If the responses pulled well over 2% we had want we called a “rollout” and would print millions of pieces and drop them in the BRC’s (bulk mail centers) around the USA.

So here we (direct response consultants) are some 30+ years later, nothing and everything has changed! Black plate changes are a thing of the past. Today we change codes on web pages and 800#’s and run multiple landing pages at the drop of a hat. We can do this for minimal costs as well as in a few hours in some cases. A good example might be today where I have a client who has been successfully running Google Adwords and wants to test other search engines.

We are going to run some PPC traffic at Yahoo and Bing as well as start up a new Facebook PPC campaign. The Facebook campaign is more effort than redirecting the same Adwords traffic from Bing and Yahoo to the same website as Google sends traffic to. Since Facebook is a propriety walled garden platform we have to create a special landing page or “fan page” designed to convert the traffic. This effort does cost money and time and it would need to be run so that enough impressions are accumulated to make some smart decisions if this is the place to advertise, ideally 500,000 to 1 million impressions is a good sampling of Facebook traffic. Time will tell. I will alos tell you that direct mail still works just as well today as it did 30 years ago, however we now have the direct response know how to test online first before we us the more expensive direct mail services.

Here is a secret about Facebook, Facebook is probably the single greatest Direct Response Platform ever invented. The point to all of this long winded article is to test and track the people and how they use the Facebook Fan Page, (or any other media) this is direct response consulting whether it be in direct mail or in Facebook. If they, the users, take action (CPA) and give us the desired and measured results it is an area we will continue to re-invest in.

If you have any questions please call Jim Peake @ 781-990-8844. Thank you.

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