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The Direct Response Specialist

Published by Galen Stilson
Direct Response Copywriter/Consultant


Direct Response
Quickie Tips

Test results aren’t always universally applicable.

If you assume that what worked for another direct marketer (even a competitor) will automatically work for you, you may be extremely disappointed, dismayed and downright confused.

For example, had you taken the test results of one seminar promoter’s mailing (he split tested two free bonuses against additional testimonials) and applied them to your mailings, it’s likely that your response would fall instead of rise. His test showed that additional testimonials outpulled free bonuses (and they were quality bonuses).

If you were a magazine publisher and assumed that the test results of a Rolling Stone split test (to determine the impact of cover design on newsstand sales) would work for your magazine, you’d probably be wrong. Their results showed that an uncluttered cover (less copy) sold better on newsstands than a cluttered cover (more copy).

Why would you be wrong to ASSUME that those two test results would work for you? Because both are contrary to general experience of most marketers. And that illustrates my point ... what works for one marketer may or may not work for another — depending upon a number of variables. And that’s true even for direct competitors.

I’ve “preached” this many times over the years, and I’ll do it again. Don’t assume someone else’s test results will hold true for you. Run your own tests of their tests before you commit the big bucks.

Don’t become overly enamored with creative rules
since most are successfully broken.

As illustrated with the test results above, most direct response “rules” are really rules-of-thumb. They are true most of the time ... but not always.

Therefore, it you feel that a technique or strategy which runs counter to everything you’ve read will work, test it. You may be right. It may be perfect for you.

It wasn’t long ago that few newsletter publishers would include free samples in their mailings. That’s changing. It wasn’t long ago that including lift letters in a mailing piece was a virtually guaranteed response booster for every mailer. Not necessarily so today.

That doesn’t mean you should “pooh-pooh” all of the long-standing, proven and tested techniques and strategies. Usually, they will prove to be most successful ... in most situations ... most of the time.

If you could write the perfect headline, 
what type of information would it contain?

It would attract attention. It would promise the most potent user benefit. It would target the primary audience. it would be informative, with an element of newsworthi-ness. It would be “you” oriented ... addressing the reader as personally as is possible. It would offer a solution to a problem which the reader is likely to be experiencing. It would fit in with the main advertising objective of the ad. It would force the reader into the main copy.

Analyze your product/service for its USP.

What is USP. 

It stands for Unique Selling Point ... a special product/service feature or benefit which no other competitor can claim (or is claiming). Your USP may be in pricing, in material, in function, in quality, or in any number of other areas. In fact, it may be strictly in the perception that you create with your advertising.

Once you’ve determined — or decided upon — your USP, begin capitalizing on it in all of your advertising. Your USP is what clearly separates you in your prospect’s mind from your competition.

If you can’t “find” a USP, it’s possible to create one. You can change the product to incorporate one, you can develop a unique guarantee or service promise, you can package it together with a special bonus gift, you can apply it to a niche within your market, and so on.

How can you apply it to a niche market? A good example would be over-the-counter pain relievers. For example, aspirin. It can be promoted as a headache reliever by one marketer, an arthritis medication by another, a menstrual cramp pain eliminator by another, and a fever reducer by still another. Those are all niche markets.

USP’s pay off. So put on your research/thinking cap and discover -- or decide -- what your product’s unique selling point is.



Copyright 2000 by Galen Stilson. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.