3 Direct Marketing Mistakes – Elliott Spitzer 101

Everyone makes mistakes in business, but it’s not how you screw up that matters, it’s how you fix your problems. Here’s a great example of what I mean:

In addition to being one of the costliest and most damaging political falls from grace in the history of New York politics, the news about Elliott Spitzer contains tons of marketing and business lessons as well, so let’s take a look at a few of them:

One. Spitzer’s entire platform was built on “ethics.” He chased down lots of bad guys, especially some big financial firms most people would have been afraid of challenging. And in reality, he actually did a lot of good work.

In fact, he was hated on Wall Street for this. I read an article about Spitzer, and one broker, when he heard the news about Spitzer, said, “Yes, there is a God.”

Most successful people have enemies however, so this isn’t a surprise.

What is a surprise is that Spitzer got caught with his proverbial pants down. Literally.

And see, the problem is, if your entire persona is built on one thing, and your get caught in the very same cookie jar you’ve been responsible for raiding, there is no other outcome to be expected other than failure — at least, temporarily. The good news is, America is a very forgiving place (think Marv Albert, Michael Milliken) and Spitzer is very likely to be back at some point in time, but perhaps not as a politician.

Lesson: If you’re going to be a staunch defender of anything, the fastest way to get thrown off the top of the mountain is by not drinking your own kool-aid. After all, no one’s bullet-proof. (Remember reverend Jim Baker?)

Two. When confronted with an obstacle, take swift action — this is usually the ONLY way you’ll have some input on the outcome. I believe had Spitzer waited to see what would happen, he would have suffered the same political fate, but there would have been a number of other severe legal misfortunes to reckon with as well. This would have magnified his situation and compromised his family even further.

Lesson: Being decisive (making decisions) and taking fast action have been pillars of success since business was invented. These specific traits were pointed out by Napoleon Hill in “Think And Grow Rich,” and they are as true today as they were back then.

Three. Admit your mistakes. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I’ve seen Spitzer take specific ownership of what he’s done. He’s said somewhat evasive things like, “I’ve got to get my personal life in order,” but he never came out and stated that he’s been sleeping with a variety of women over the years. Of course, this isn’t exactly a slice of humble pie that’s easy to digest, but there again, that’s why he’s in trouble.

The truth is, in any relationship — whether it’s with your spouse, or with your customers — when you’ve done something wrong… the fastest way the other person will get over it, is by taking full ownership of your actions. And then, you put some sort of transparent checks and balances into your business systems (which you should let your customers know about), to make sure they won’t happen again.

Lesson: Full disclosure and being completely transparent in your dealings, is the fastest way to build trust. Doesn’t matter if you’re in a new relationship, or if you’ve messed up an existing one. No one’s perfect (Lord knows I’m not), but that’s not a problem — no one’s looking for you to be perfect. They’re just looking for you to be honest and open. Flaws are not the problem, they are a part of life — pretending you don’t have them, however, is a HUGE problem.

Fixing your mistakes in business is like fixing your mistakes in life: just be candid and rebuild, one step at a time.

Now go sell something, Craig Garber

DRTV – Insider Tactics for Successful Direct Response TV Ads

DRTV or direct response television advertising is a rough and tumble business. Few products have enough mass appeal to work. Conservative estimates reveal that only one in 20 products tested actually turns a profit. And those that are successful have their market share eroded almost immediately by knockoff artists.

It’s enough to turn your hair gray and make your teeth chatter. But even though no one has a sure-fire formula for success, there are tactics that insiders use to improve their odds for success. Here are a few of them:

  • Offer a unique product. Retail is still king because it’s faster, easier, and cheaper for most people to buy at a local store. So if you want people to buy from you on TV, you must offer them something special. The Hairagami lets women fold their own hair into complex styles. The TapLight lets you instantly add a little light fixture anywhere. Louie The Loud Mouth Bass looks like a plaque but starts moving and singing when it senses you’re near. The more unique your product, the better. Just remember you need at least a four-to-one markup (preferably six-to-one) to make money because of the high cost of media.
  • Make a direct pitch. Ron Popeil got his start selling food choppers, shoeshine spray, and plastic plant kits on the street, in stores, and on the fair circuit. He was a pitchman. And DRTV grew out of this direct selling approach. If there’s any real secret to success, this is it.
  • Solve a problem. This is the classic DRTV formula. Can’t reach that bolt? The Squeeze Wrench promises to work in tight places where pliers, ratchets, and wrenches won’t fit. Not all TV products solve a problem per se but offer something unique for a better price, such as a USA Quarters Map for only five dollars as opposed to twenty dollars or more for others.
  • Push your USP. Your unique selling proposition positions your product and sets it apart from all others. The IGIA Laser White is the “world’s first and only laser toothbrush.” Always show how your product is the best, the easiest, the most, the first, or the only.
  • Dramatize benefits and results. The infomercial for the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie spends little time on the product itself, demonstrating instead all the mouth-watering food you can make. George Foreman doesn’t just tell you that his grill drains off fat; he cooks up some burgers and shows you the fat dripping into a dish. People believe what they see. So show what your product can do for them.
  • Make a powerful promise. This should be your primary benefit or claim stated clearly and directly. The Steam Bullet promises to “clean and disinfect your entire home with just the power of steam.” Mega Lip promises to boost your own natural collagens and plump up your lips “within 29 days.” Just be careful about over promising. You don’t want to disappoint customers or invite complaints and lawsuits.
  • Establish high perceived value. Your price should already be attractive. But you can make it even more so with a technique called “perceptual contrast.” A commercial for the Euro Sealer points out first that “an electric sealer costs over $200.” Then it offers you the Euro Sealer for just $19.95. Contrasting the higher price with the lower price makes the lower price seem more attractive.
  • Add value with extras. The Popeil Pasta and Sausage Maker seems like a good deal at $99.95. But when you see that it comes with a recipe and instruction booklet, instructional video kit, 12 pasta shaping dies, pasta measuring cup, automatic pasta cutter, Italian sausage horn, 12 feet of Italian size casings, and Italian spice seasoning, the deal seems irresistible.
  • Use real testimonials. You’ll be tempted to script them or hire actors. But you should resist this temptation. Real words from real people always look and sound more believable.
  • Make a strong guarantee. A 30-day money back guarantee is standard, but don’t be afraid to strengthen it. One simple way to do this is to incorporate your promise. The Ab-Doer guarantees “you’ll lose at least two inches from your waist in just the first ten days or your money back.”
  • Be realistic. Most DRTV programs have a life span of about eight months, so you have to plan for obsolescence. And don’t ignore retail, upsells, offer inserts, and back-end list exploitation. Money is green no matter what marketing channel you use.

Direct Mail Advertising Tips For Killer Response

One of my biggest things to remember in advertising is “Do something different.”

You don’t want to be viewed as just another company sending out junk mail. Chances are, your prospect gets mail from companies just like yours every week. And furthermore, you’re competing with dissimilar companies who bombard your prospect will junk mail. Every one of them is begging for your prospect’s attention.

What are you going to do to get their attention?

One of the things I like about direct mail is you can hit your target when no one else around. If you send a personalized mail piece, you’ll likely be the only person sending them personal mail that day. You have their attention. If they’re interested in cleaning, you’ve got the attention of a super hot prospect.

Direct mail is also the best way to keep in contact with your current clients. Don’t rely on the business card you left them or even a refrigerator magnet. While those are good tools, they don’t take the place of reminders in the mail.

When mailing to repeat clients, it’s okay to use bulk mail. However, when mailing to new prospects, bulk mail makes your mailing look just like JUNK MAIL. To keep your mailing from being perceived as junk mail, use first class. Also, make the envelope look like it came from their Aunt Sally. Make it look like personal mail.

Here are some other tips to try that cost little to nothing extra:

Send your letter in an invitation envelope

Use a hot pink or other colored envelope instead of standard white

Mail an oversized postcard (half of an 8 ½ x 11 inch page)

Use something other than a flag on your first class stamp

Hand write your envelope or use a handwritten font when printing

If can’t handwrite the envelope, avoid using labels-print directly on the envelope

Put something bulky in the envelope to intrigue the recipient (band-aids, pen, etc)

Include a business card that restates your offer

Think out of the box. It will take your company to new levels. Your prospects will be interested and your current clients will stay interested.

John Braun is a copywriter with Hitman Advertising. John started a service business while majoring in marketing so he could practice his advertising skills. Now, he teaches business owners to STOP wasting money and start profit from their advertising.