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6 Dos and Don’ts of Direct Response Marketing

By Jenna Bruce on Tue, Mar 22, 2016 @ 10:57 AM |


Direct response marketing is one of the most powerful advertising strategies because campaigns are carefully designed to elicit an immediate and specific response from consumers. Because of this immediacy, businesses know quickly whether their marketing is delivering enough ROI.

As effective as this strategy is, it can be difficult to pull off a successful campaign. With this in mind, here are 6 dos and don’ts of direct response marketing.

DO: Offer Something Your Market Wants offer something your market wants

One of the most important things to understand about direct marketing is that it has NOTHING to do with creating markets and EVERYTHING to do with finding existing markets and offering them something they already want. This truth is what makes this method of selling so efficient, streamlined and profitable.

Your direct marketing campaigns are not about creating brand awareness but about putting your product or service in front of the right audience who already has a need or desire for it. Understand this and you are on your way toward success.

DON’T: Sell Products, Sell Solutions to Problems 

Once you find a market that wants what you have, do NOT sell them your product or service. No one really cares about your product or service – what they care about are their own needs and wants. Mark doesn’t need his car washed, he needs to NOT look like a pig when he picks up his date on Friday. Mrs. Clarkson doesn’t need new glasses, she wants to look stylish, and hopefully ten years younger.

The more you put the focus on your prospects’ needs and wants, the more of a response you’ll get out of them.

Appeal to EmotionsDO: Appeal to Emotions 

When creating direct marketing campaigns, it’s easy to become overly logical and focus on data. After all, you’ve spent a lot of time looking into things like reach, frequency, and CPM, so it stands to reason you would naturally focus on the data of your product or service and list a dozen bullet points of why your offer will save the prospect X, Y or Z.

But people buy based on emotions, not numbers. Only after they’ve already made an emotional decision will they use logic to justify their choice. So, always hook them by their emotions, and then reel them in with logic.

DON’T: Reinvent the Wheel

Direct marketing has been around since the first days of advertising, and after centuries of using this technique, there are certain things that have been proven to work over and over and over again. Things like:

  • Offers with time limits are more effective than offers without.
  • Offers with a free gift get more action than offers with discounts, particularly when the free gift matches the prospect’s need or want.
  • Sweepstakes work - especially for impulse items.
  • Benefits out-pull features.

Don’t reinvent the wheel – stick to what has been proven to work.

DO: Value Function Over Form

Often advertisers put too much effort into how their ad will look instead of what it will say. You’ve got to focus on the point of your ad. What do you want your ad to do? Who’s your audience? How can you get your message across efficiently? Once you know the answers to these questions, you will then know what copy and layout will work.

Focus on the function (point) of your ad before you start thinking about its form (layout).

DON'T: Forget the Basic Elements of a Direct Marketing Ad

When creating direct response campaigns, make sure your message includes the three basic elements:

  1. Your offer
  2. The benefits of your offer
  3. A call-to-action for responding to the offer


Without each of these, you are not doing direct marketing but merely pretending to.

Though there are numerous digital channels that have taken the focus off of direct response marketing, those that still use this technique know it’s one of the best ways to make sales and track campaigns. Use these 6 do’s and don’ts to ensure your next direct marketing campaign is successful.

 Download this fact sheet and learn 10 reasons why newspapers are still an effective advertising channel.

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